Atawhai’s 14 year old niece complained of knee cramps, so Atawhai took her to the hospital to have them checked. A hospital social worker brought a midwife to speak to her and she was shocked to learn that her young niece was pregnant.
Atawhai’s niece was staying with her permanently and when baby arrived, both her niece and baby were in her care. She tried hard to support them financially on her benefit, resorting to AfterPay to provide much needed essentials such as maternity and baby clothes, and extra food. Atawhai applied to receive an Unsupported Child Benefit for her niece but was declined. “I knew I just had to soldier on, and we did, we managed,” she explains.
Te Pua Waitanga Ki Ōtautahi Trust connected Atawhai to Cath, a Financial Mentor at Kingdom Resources. Cath looked at Atawhai’s situation and got to understand the dynamics of the family. She recognised that both children should be on an Unsupported Child Benefit. Atawhai filled in a ‘Review of Decision’ form and had her situation reassessed. Cath explains that Atawhai was doing a great job managing despite being on the incorrect benefit, “she was making everything work by juggling.”
The reassessment found that Atawhai and her whanau were indeed entitled to receive a higher weekly income. Atawhai beams as she recalls discovering a substantial backpay had been deposited into her account. On top of this her weekly income was increased significantly, by 45%!
Having gone without money for so long, Atawhai spent some time catching up on purchases that had been put off, while also keeping to a plan for managing the money wisely. The first thing she did was to purchase a car so that her whanau no longer needs to walk and bus everywhere. Then she paid off all her AfterPay accounts and debt.
Atawhai is planning a holiday with the family to visit relatives in the North Island, “cause I can,” she says laughing, “I couldn’t do this stuff before.” Cath tells Atawhai, “The beauty of it all is that now you can save for another holiday next year!”
Atawhai is delighted to be able to provide more for the children. She says, “I can do it now. I can actually buy for them. No more AfterPay.”
By Janine Millington