Mother's letter shows impact of social workers

Published: October 1, 2020

Whangarei social worker, Kate, and her team have received an incredible letter from a mother who has created a better life for herself and her tamariki. 

Watch Kate and her team read out the letter, which is shared with the mother's permission, for Aotearoa NZ Social Workers' Day.


I know that you probably receive a lot of negative feedback, so today, I wanted to send you something positive. 

When Oranga Tamariki first got involved, I hated it. I slammed doors, I swore at the workers who were in my home. I wasn't a pleasant person by any means.  

Fast forward to today and I have a renewed perspective.  

When I first met Kate, I didn't believe in myself, and I felt like there wasn't any help or support available to me. 

I felt unvalidated, insecure, lost and doubtful that my situation would ever change. 

I was also pregnant with my next child and had every intention of adopting the baby out.  

Recently, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy whom I couldn't fathom my life without.  

This would never have happened if Kate and Oranga Tamariki hadn't provided me with the support and tools I needed to forge ahead.  

Kate made me feel safe, validated, and empowered. I'm so thankful for her guidance and determination to help me see through a different lens. 

Kate is an unsung hero, as are many other social workers. Without her help, my family wouldn't be who we are today.  

Thank you so much for helping me get my life back on track. You have changed our lives.

Seeing potential for change

Kate worked alongside the mother for a year and they formed a close relationship. However, it took strong perseverance including numerous home visits and phone calls to build trust.

“She had a pre-determined idea about Oranga Tamariki and was resisting our support," Kate says.

"Many times I visited her home and called her phone but she hung up on me or told me to leave. I could see she was stuck in a rut but also had huge potential to make a better life for herself and her children.”

The mother was in an abusive relationship and, as shown in the letter, was pregnant and intended to adopt the baby out because she didn’t feel equipped to care for it.

“There had been times when she slammed the door in my face, but I continued to try and get through to her. I could see she had huge potential to make positive changes in her life.”

Wrapping support around whānau

Eventually, after Kate's relentless purseverance, she let her barrier down and accepted support. 

“When she finally let me into her home it was such a relief as we were able to start wrapping supports around her and her kids.”

This included a midwife who supported her throughout her pregnancy along with Maternity Mental Health, Barnardos who run a parenting through separation course, and Ngāti Hine Health Trust to learn strategies for a safe, loving home.

Because of this combined support, the mother is no longer involved with Oranga Tamariki and is living a happier and safer life with her children.

“I’m so proud of her for being brave, accepting support and making important changes in her life," Kate says.

"The safety and wellbeing of her children was at the heart of this.”

Perseverance through resistance 

Kate has been a social worker with Oranga Tamariki at Teaotahi Site in Whangarei for nearly two years and before that she worked with Family Works and Women’s Refuge.

She says stories like this show how social workers often have to cope with a lot of resistance before we can provide care and support for a family. 

“It’s a really tough job, but we give it all we’ve got because we know, if we persevere, we can make a huge difference for families who are struggling and help them realise their own potential."​​​​