“The first thing I did after being released was video chat with my son. He’s the reason I’ve changed. He’s the reason I left the gang behind.”
“Being a gang member was always part of my legacy. My grandfather and my father were gang members, so it was only natural that I would be part of the gang family too. My mother even started making my patch when I was little. It took some time to realise, but I wasn’t getting the love from the gang that I thought I would. The gang was the only family I knew, but when my son was born I knew instantly that I wanted a better life for him. It took a jail sentence and an ultimatum from the mother of my child to finally make the change, but I’m here now. I don’t have the right to decide what life my son can choose. I want him to be able to do anything he wants to do, except for what I have done with my life. I regret the choices I’ve made, I feel sorry and empathetic for the people I’ve hurt. No one looks at me the same anymore after hearing what I did. I hope to reconcile with them one day. But for now, I have to take every day slowly. I have to look after myself first, become self-sufficient, stay focused and get better before I try to impress other people - including my son. But once I’m there, my goal is to build a house with my own hands, for my seven younger siblings. I want to be a role model to them and my son.
I left the North Island, friends and family behind to put some distance between old temptations and myself. I haven’t seen my son in seven years, six of them I spent in prison due to assault and robbery. Four years into my sentence, I met Carey and connected with Pathway for the first time. This was around the time my whole mindset started to change.
Pathway has been helpful in ways I can’t begin to explain. They help you find direction and support your path, they connect you with people who might be able to help, and those who will actually look at your CV. They provided me with accommodation and supported my decision to figure out what I want to do with my life - before just working in any job that might make me unhappy. That is a privilege I never had.
I decided to apply at Te Wananga O Aotearoa (Tertiary Education Centre) to study Toi (Maori and Indigenous Arts) because I’ve realised during my time in the NI that the Community Skills Bank classes I enjoyed most were health and fitness-related (I participated in the 16km City2Surf marathon) and art classes. Finding Pathway is probably one of the main highlights of my life. I never had much help before, now I don’t feel alone anymore.”
- Tyler*, Tu Ora