Born in Puapua, Savaii (Samoa), Faalata grew up with eight siblings. A member of her church’s youth, she was selected as the Youth representative to come to New Zealand with a fellowship group in 1987.
“At the end of the trip, our minister spoke to my mum about leaving me in NZ for the opportunities it could offer me,” she says.
“That was a hard time for me because I didn’t know the family I was staying with and I got homesick.”
She says that God has really blessed her by placing nice, helpful people in her path.
“I got my first job at Tony’s Restaurant in Lorne Street, Auckland City as a kitchen hand. I saw the ad in the newspaper, cut it out and caught the bus to the city from west Auckland,” she says.
“I could barely speak English at the time, I just turned up and showed the manager Tony the newspaper ad and he gave the job on the spot.”
She says she was very lucky to meet such kind and helpful people.
“One of my favourite memories in my life is seeing the work of God’s grace in progress in my employers at Tony’s Restaurant where I got my first job,” she says.
“They were such lovely people who helped even when there was no benefit for them…They helped me a lot and to get my visa’s for New Zealand…. I wish I knew how to find them today to say thank you.”
Faalata says they also encouraged her to pursue further learning.
“I left Tony’s to pursue a Diploma in Early Childhood Learning at Auckland College of Education.”
After completing her education, she did her practical at Carrington Polytech for six weeks and was offered full time work there immediately after. Then in 2010 she started work at an Early Childhood Centre in Karaka.
Then in 2015, Faalata had a bad fall at home, and suffered serious injury to her knee. Unfortunately her employer had to find a replacement after waiting for her to recover for six months.
As the primary earner for her household including her husband and two daughters aged 24 and 16, it was a stressful time.
“I went through a rough time fighting ACC for payments and had to go on the benefit to keep us going,” she says.
“I am the sole income earner in our household so this was a really difficult time for us. Our debts had accumulated interest and repayments became more and more difficult.”
Her husband applied for a job at Pacific Homecare and Faalata came along to the interview as his support person to help translate.
There she met Pacific Homecare Whanau Ora Navigator Asena-Fau Uluakiola.
“It’s funny really, my husband applied for the Support Worker role at Pacific Homecare. I came in as his support person because he could not speak English that well but I ended up getting the job myself!,” she says.
“It was at this orientation that I first heard about Whanau Ora.”
She says Whanau Ora has helped to keep the family going during a difficult time.
“Whether it be shopping or clothing or the power bill, it’s meant one less thing for me to worry about and I have been able put that money towards paying off my debts,” she says.
“The support from my navigator each time I called with requests was amazing. She has been really helpful with my needs.”
The family has nothing but thanks for Asena and Pacific Homecare.
“Asena-Fau Uluakiola has been a really great support for my family and me,” she says.
“She was also the person who gave me the job as a Support Worker which I am forever grateful for.”