A life of sacrifice for the family is simply the only way to describe Lina Vei’s life.
Tongan born fifty-two-year-old Lina Vei first stepped foot on Kiwi soil at the young age of nineteen. The plan at the time was to attend a wedding on behalf of her family and return to Tonga.
However, with the inspiration of a better future, she was persuaded by her Aunty to remain in New Zealand, go to school and be better able to help her mum and dad at home. Dad Sione & Mum Soana Vei remained in Tonga with their two other children (1 older & 1 younger) along with the six children they adopted.
Four years prior to Lina moving to New Zealand, her aunty had passed away leaving behind six children ranging in age from 1 – 15 years old at that time. As is the natural order of things, Sione being the older brother, took in and adopted all six children.
Sione & Soana made a living on money made from selling fish, tapa, mats, and root crops. Lina agreed to stay on in New Zealand with a heavy heart knowing she would be able to help her parents more if she worked instead of went to school.
Thus, began her journey into the workforce. Starting at the Bluebird factory Lina worked long hours and sent every spare penny back home. Even though she cried everyday yearning for her homeland, Lina was matured enough to understand that this was the best way to help her parents right now.
In 2001, with all children grown up and living lives on their own, Sione & Soana joined Lina in New Zealand as doting grandparents to Lina’s children.
Twelve years later, Soana fell ill, so again Lina made the ultimate sacrifice. She left her long-time job at Arnotts Factory to stay home and look after her sick mum. This was short-lived as unfortunately, Soana passed in 2015. Following her death, Lina made the decision to continue staying home to look after Sione whose health had deteriorated.
A single mother to 6 children the youngest of whom has Autism (lower spectrum) life for Lina can be challenging. Her day starts at 4 am with preparing the youngest for school at Sir Keith Park, then drop other children to school and work, then return to make breakfast for dad. Her days are spent taking care of dad, tidying the house, shopping, and preparing for the family dinner before the pickup runs.
“When I’m sick, I can’t just lie down because I have too much to do ……………. There’s no one to take over to give me a break”
“even when I do the shopping I have to rush because dad is at home with my youngest”Lina
Thank fully, Lina is supported by the government for their everyday living expenses. Her siblings help with household items like furniture and Pacific Homecare assist with urgent needs for the children through Whanau Ora.
Dad Sione helps Lina in any way he can. For a break, he enjoys time socialising with the local Tongan Community on Thursdays and Fridays at the local community hall.
To help with personal care’s Lina relies on Pacific Homecare Support Worker Manase Tupou who does service four days a week.
“It’s very important that Lina and the children are happy and safe”
“Going to church is also very important and socialising with the community”Sione