Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa Kura has been working at Whaimarama Youth Connex at Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa, for the last seven months.
I asked her how she came to be working there ...
"I came to have lunch with my mate and I looked up to those double doors [that now lead into Whaimarama] and I liked the light that was coming out of that room.
"I asked Mere what was in there and she said it was Whaimarama Youth Services. She asked me there and then to apply, so I did! I've been working for myself for the last five years and I was over myself ... I'm a people person really and my own company was boring me - I wanted change!"
Kura told me that she had never realised how much poverty there is. She said she is shocked at how many young people are homeless, have poor education and have such huge financial barriers to getting where they want to go.
"My eyes have been opened and it makes my heart heavy ... I see young people who have not eaten for three days, who are homeless, living under a bridge and people who have cut themselves because they feel so low ... These are things that people of my generation could have and should have prevented from happening ..."
Kura is committed to making a difference and it is that commitment that keeps her working with Whaimarama Youth Connex.
"I like it when we can hear what their dreams and desires are and how we can bridge that up with where they are now ..."
Whaimarama Youth Connex Whaimarama is a service that has been around a long time and has a solid reputation across Kirikiriroa.
The service has a new contract with the Ministry of Social Development to provide services supporting young people to access benefits and where appropriate, education, employment and accommodation.
This means people aged 16-18 no longer go to the ministry for payments, they now go to local providers such as Whaimarama.
The service works with young people on a benefit (YP), young parents (YPP) and those not in education, employment or training (NEET - 16 to 17-year-olds).
With the YP and YPP there are certain obligations they have to meet in order to remain on the payment (e.g. budgeting, parenting, etc).
Whaimarama Youth Connex provides a wrap-around support, assisting them into appropriate services, health, social, training and education providers and pretty much anything else they might need.
The service has existing relationships with agencies within the Kirikiriroa Whanau-ora Cluster. They also have good relationships with local schools and the local ministry office. In other areas, they are developing and building networks and referral protocols.
"We are fortunate the runanga and the cluster know us and know who we are, as this makes our life easier."