My name is Lynda Williams and I live in Ōpōtiki
Ko Ngāti Rua tōku hapū
Ko Omarumutu tōku Marae
We came home from Palmerston North to Ōpōtiki about 18 months ago, because we wanted our kids to be “Connected”, know their roots and the place they’re from. I’ve had to work really hard to find a job in Ōpōtiki and completed some of the Pathways to Work programmes that Whakatōhea run, and now I am employed full time, which is a “Dream come True”.
The employment situation has been much harder for my partner. He’s a hard worker and he’s good at what he does, but there just aren’t the jobs yet. Every season he works in the kiwifruit industry, and he puts in the hours and gets as much overtime as he can. But the work only lasts six months, and after that we’re back to being a one income household. It makes it pretty tough. In between seasons, my partner is a stay-at-home dad who supplements the needs of our household by hunting, fishing and gathering kai for the table. This is not a hobby thing, we need to get out there to make the budget stretch some weeks, and we are so lucky to live here at home where food is abundant.
Housing can be a challenge, I didn’t think the rents would be so expensive in Ōpōtiki, we’ve just had to move house because our last place was sold, and the rent in our new place is higher again. Plus, there were dozens of people looking at the houses we viewed, it was quite hard finding somewhere good, because there’s a lot of competition. We would love to buy our own place, my partner and I are really good savers, so we actually have more than the twenty percent deposit we need – we’ve been saving for years. But at the moment, no banks will give us a mortgage because of our work situation, they say we don’t have enough certainty of income.
There are so many hard working people in this town, but some weeks it’s nearly impossible to make ends meet because there’s just not enough money coming in. No-one wants a benefit, they just want a job that pays a decent wage and is there all year round.
Our family will stay in Ōpōtiki, we are here for the long haul, we are connected to our roots here. My eldest boy is just starting Ōpōtiki College which he loves, and the kids have a life that we just couldn’t get in Palmerston North. We took them digging for pipis a few months ago, and the kids didn’t even know what pipis were! They were pretty keen on them after we had a good feed though.
Job opportunities for our whānau are also on my mind. My boy is just starting college, but it won’t be too many years before he’ll be thinking about what he wants to do for a career. Imagine if we were able to offer a whole lifestyle. The Whakatōhea Settlement will enable us opportunity, independence and choice.
I want there to be all kinds of things that our tamāriki can do – manual jobs, management jobs, jobs out at sea, jobs in the town, all families want the same things. We want a life for ourselves and a better life for our children. We want to be close to our whānau and our iwi, living on our land, in the place we belong.