Building foundations for the future

30 September 2016

Elijah (left) pictured with his three siblings

When 14-year-old Samoan Elijah Meyer received a scholarship to attend Howick College to play rugby for the school’s First XV, his mother Selema was over the moon and so proud.

But, although the scholarship paid for the year 9 student’s school fees, it didn’t cover additional costs such as a laptop required in order for Elijah to complete his school and homework.

Having recently moved back to New Zealand from Australia after the passing of her husband, a laptop was an expense that Selema simply could not afford on her benefit.

The widowed mother of four, who is currently completing a course of her own with the hopes of working in Early Childhood, had enrolled her family at the South Seas Clinic when they moved back to New Zealand.

But Selema wasn’t aware of the community-based Whanau Ora service, which the family were entitled to access for much-needed help.

“Elijah needed a laptop for school, but I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t know how to get it because it’s really expensive,” says Selema.

After hearing of the problem, a family member suggested that Selema enquire about the Whanau Ora programme at South Seas.

Community Health Worker Tafaoga Iati met with the family to complete a Whanau Ora needs assessment.

She says she could instantly see Elijah’s potential to make it far in life, not just as a future rugby player but also in his education, given the push.

“I saw that Elijah has potential to succeed in his studies,” says Tafaoga.

“But he needed a laptop, it was a must-have for him in the class. At the time his teacher was lending his own laptop to Elijah so that he could take it home and complete his homework.”

Tafaoga also noticed the sheer willpower of Selema, who wanted a better future for her children. In Australia she realised Elijah had started falling into a bad crowd, so moved her family back to New Zealand for a clean break.

Tafaoga says Selema did the best she could as a single parent looking after four school-aged children, despite their financial challenges.

Through the Whanau Ora service, Tafaoga was able to liaise on behalf of the family with agencies in order to support them where they desperately needed it.

One of the key outcomes of Whanau Ora is to support Pacific families to reach their full potential to succeed in education, and Tafaoga was able to secure a laptop for Elijah’s school work.

Selema is also able to use the laptop for her studies from time to time, and she says the family is thriving under the Whanau Ora programme.

Everyone is enrolled in the South Seas clinic, and the younger children look to Elijah as a role model who is buckling down and working hard for a better future.

It is a brighter future that South Seas is all too happy to support the Meyers family to achieve.

Elijah and his mother are thankful for the help.

“They’re amazing,” says Elijah.

“What they do to help families like ours in need is awesome.”

Find out more 

Whanau Ora Service

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South Seas Healthcare

Physical address: 14 Fair Mall, Auckland 2023
Phone: 09 273 9017

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