Te Pātaka - He Korowai Trust

The Innovation: Whānau Assistance Programme

He Korowai Trust’s Whānau Assistance Programme utilises whānau skills, resources, strengths and relationships to develop verified and validated whānau plans, cashflows and budgets across all primary life domains (health, housing, justice, training & employment). 

Once plans are signed off by all parties, the programme assists the ‘natural’ helpers within the whānau to support their whānau to achieve the plan milestones. This approach avoids service capture and reconnects the umbilical chord back to whānau, while using whānau, rather than Trust or State, resources. He Korowai Trust has won numerous awards for this model.

He Korowai Trust (Whānau Assistance Programme – Natural Helpers)

[Ricky Houghton, He Korowai Trust CEO] A family can solve its own difficulties if left with the right people within that whānau.  And through the use of Natural Helpers, we’ve been able to rebuild the community of Kaitaia.

Everybody that walks through this door will present in crisis.  A crisis is determined as something that cannot wait for an appointment.  But we’ve got a capacity problem, and so we’ve developed a model where we identify key people in the family that are able to work with us and with the family.  So we say to them there that you should bring in at least one person that you will lie for.  We call them Natural Helpers.

[Llani, He Korowai Trust Client] I was in a violent relationship.  Our house felt like a prison.  Aunty Sophie was not my last resort but the only one that had her head screwed on that I could go to, that would help me.

[Sophie, Llani’s Aunty and Natural Helper] When she came up here and came and said “Aunty, I need you to help me”, I jumped up.

[Llani] When we had our second child, at the age of three months she passed away with meningitis.  He took it harder than I did.  Started going out, being an idiot, drinking.  And then he got introduced to P.  So that’s when I thought, “Oh, nah I’ve had enough.” 

When I first came to Kaitaia, I was a mess.  I was really a mess.  Aunty Sophie’s always been there.  She’s always told me she’ll be there.  I just never thought I’d be in this position to ask for help.

[Sophie] I go around on the weekend to check up and make sure that there’s food in the house for the kids; that she’s doing all right; that she’s got the support; making sure that she keeps on track with her plans and stuff like that; get the kids to the doctor.  Just giving her a little bit of a nudge to do things.

[Sophie] (to child climbing on the bench) “Get off there.” 

[Llani] “Hop off please.”

[Sophie] “Get down off there.  You don’t kiss her for being naughty.  You have to discipline her Llani.  Otherwise they think that bad behaviour is good.”

[Llani] I fall off the rail and then she gets me back on it again.  She always checks up on me.

[Sophie] Guess sometimes she doesn’t like it.  But that’s the good of being the aunty.  The favourite aunty, she calls me.

[Ricky Houghton] We develop budgets and cash flows and plans with the Natural Helper.  They’ve known this person all their life and they’ll know reasonably what they will generally comply with and what they won’t.  The Natural Helper will drive ahead the plans across all the life domains: local health, the housing, the justice, the training and employment, the kids.  And that reconnects family.  It actually recruits a staff member and it avoids service capture.

[Sione, He Korowai Trust Client] Five months ago I got redundant at work.  We got into a bit of trouble, and it just got worse and worse.  We weren’t winning.

[Gillian, Sione’s Neighbour and Natural Helper] I intuitively could see that Sione was not well.  He was sitting there waiting for the phone to ring, and I said “What are you doing?”, and he said “I’m waiting for the labour hire to ring me.”  And I said “But Sione you can’t sit there all day waiting for the phone to ring.  It’s making you unwell.”  And that’s when he looked up, and I think Sione knew that I saw him.

[Sione] I felt bad… because I’m not contributing to our lives. 

[Gillian] Seven k’s it is to Sione’s house.  So I walk there just about every day, and with the excuse that I’m on my walk.  And I go up there and make sure he’s not sitting by that phone, that’s all.

[Sione] She says to me, “Just do anything.  Go down the farm.  Go walk around and don’t think too much about it.”  Just for some reason I calm down as soon I get to talk to her.  Yeah, she’s just got that magic.

[Ricky Houghton] You give the family fish, that’s all you’ll ever do.  But if you give them a net and show them how to catch their own fish – the Natural Helper concept gives the family a net so that they can help themselves using their own skill, using their own resources, both today and in the future.

[Sophie] It’s just having that, when they don’t feel comfortable or when they’re feeling a little bit down, the Natural Helper’s there to say “Hey, everything’s gonna be all right.  Let me tend to that.  Let me help you with that.”  That’s what the job of the Natural Helper is.

[Llani] It’s still a bit scattered but she’s gathering all those scattered things together.  And I’m working on it myself.  I’m on a strict budget (laughs).  I get an allowance.  I’ve never had that before.

[Sophie] While she’s come a long way, we’ve still got a long way to go with her.  I tell her “You’ve done so well.  I’m so proud of you.  I love you to bits.”  I tell her that, or I hug her.  And Llani’s never had much of that in her life.

[Llani] If I didn’t have Sophie right now I don’t know where I’d be, to be honest.  She’s been through a tough life as well.  She amazes me that… she can get herself out of it and pull herself together and move on.  She’s a soldier (laughs).  Just don’t get on her grumpy side (laughs).

About He Korowai Trust

He Korowai Trust is located in the Far North and provides a range of specialist provider services. These services include: all addictions, counselling, family violence, restorative justice, sexual treatment for offenders, money management and homelessness.

Any person may access He Korowai Trust’s free service provided they have been refused help by other agencies and are experiencing one of the following: no Income, no food, disconnection of power or water, repossession, eviction (includes eviction from whānau), homelessness, mortgagee sale, someone is hurting them, or they are hurting someone.


He Korowai Trust
136/A Commerce Street
Kaitaia 0410

P O Box 401

Phone: (09) 408 4844
Freephone: 0800 567 6924
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.hekorowaitrust.co.nz

Disclaimer: This page and the innovation it accompanies do not represent the views of the Ministry of Health. The views represented are those of He Korowai Trust and the innovation piloted.

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