A Day in the Life of a Social Worker: Rose Ngareta Herewini

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

My name is Rose Ngareta Herewini. I identify myself as a descendant of the Te Arawa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngā Puhi, and Ngāti Kahungunu iwi (tribes) of Aotearoa. I was born and raised in a little township in the Bay of Plenty called Maketu. I am the eldest tamāhine (daughter) of Hinepuariari Ngareta Milroy and Moutu Herewini. I am the kauaemua to four tēina (younger siblings). Though I share this role with my māhanga (twin sister). I am also a proud mother to five taiohi (young adults), and Kuia (grandmother) to four ātaahua (beautiful) mokopuna (grandchildren).

I began my study journey back in 2009 with Te Manaakitanga o Aotearoa graduating in a Certificate of Māori Performing Arts. While there I was granted the student of the year. I then moved on to study at Waiariki Polytech in 2010 and graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Applied Social Sciences under Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Following that, I went on to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Bicultural Professional Supervision, simultaneously completing a Diploma in Mauri Ora at Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa.

I have recently moved to Auckland from Rotorua, currently taking a year’s leave of absence as a social worker to work for Oranga Tamariki as Kaiwhakaue (Steerer) of Whakamana Tangata at Whakatakapokai Youth Justice Residence. Whakamana Tangata uses Restorative Practices that are informed and guided by Māori values or whetū of Mana, Tapu, Mauri-Ora, Piringa and Te Ara Tikanga. It is not a programme, framework, or model but a way of being. This role began in October 2020 and I am part of a team who have been tasked with implementing, supporting, and role modelling this way of being into all the Youth Justice Residences across the country.

 As my first role working for a government organisation, it is a wonderful privilege to work in partnership with mana whenua, Ākitai o Waiohua, at Whakatakapokai, to build and create a new way of working directly with kaimahi (staff), rangatahi, their whānau, hapū and iwi. As a recognised kaiwhakaruruhau and registered social worker, I am immensely dedicated to leading and driving Whakamana Tangata at Whakatakapokai and ensuring that Te Ao Māori values, deeply rooted in tradition and handed down from generation to generation, are preserved and promoted. As Tangata whenua and being a Māori social worker, it is an obligation of mine to ensure that the reconnection between the ancient wisdom of our tīpuna and the modern yearnings of the generations present and those yet to be born is respected, valued, and sustained.

Though I am not currently acting as a Social Worker, my day-to-day roles, and responsibilities as Kaiwhakaue demonstrates and upholds core social work competencies and standards. This involves endorsing and strengthening practice with Māori, and other ethnic and cultural groups of Aotearoa. This also includes working respectfully with neuro-diverse rangatahi and promoting their rights and social and economic justice. For example, using restorative practice tools such as the Social Discipline Window, under the guidance of the five whetū of Whakamana Tangata, myself and kaimahi will be equipped with the necessary skills to build, maintain, restore, and sustain meaningful relationships with each other and rangatahi. In addition, ensure that a relational and restorative approach is at the forefront of practice.

One of the highlights of this role is starting fresh, a blank slate. Whakatakapokai is the first Youth Justice Residence to re-open in 10 years, and embed a Māori centred focused approached to working differently within restorative justice. That said, adopting a non-punitive approach as opposed to traditional regulatory approaches of addressing standards of behaviour and resolving conflict may pose challenges. Hence, Whakamana Tangata is a way of reframing what we do differently and how we work with each other, the rangatahi and their whānau. Whakamana Tangata endows Te Āhuatanga which provides a visual representation of the journey, purpose, and desired outcomes of working in a restorative manner under the guidance of Māori values or whetū. This Āhuatanga uses our ancestor’s navigation story within the narrative.

I believe that our ability to preserve, defend, and promote both indigenous ways of life, knowledge’s, and values and restorative practices is imperative to the future of social work and to the change and transformation of rangatahi of Aotearoa. As social workers we must be bold and dedicate our positions to leading and driving these changes.

Prior to this role, I was employed as a Social Worker at RAPHS – Rotorua Primary Health Support, and before that a SwiS – Social worker in Schools for Family Works Northern. My passion and interests are dedicated to my mission and purpose in life, which is to serve the Tangata Whenua and mokopuna of Aotearoa. That said, I have a responsibility and obligation to protect and enhance our cultural traditions wherever it is I can.

ANZASW is always on the look out for social workers to feature in the ‘Day in the Life of a Social Worker’ series. If you or anyone you know would like their story told, please be in touch. You can email Rosa Hill at voice@anzasw.nz

One comment

  • Tena koe Rose
    Ka mau te wehi! What a fantastic article- inspiring, hopeful and passionate.
    Can’t wait to hear how you get on in your new role in Auckland and I’m missing you in BOP.
    Noho ora mai,

    Kirsty