Annual Report 2021
Kia Ora. My name is Mary-Lynn. I came into care when I was 3-years old. Fast forward to 21-years of age and I’ve graduated from AUT university with a degree in Education Policy and Conflict Resolution. I currently work in online education internationally, helping at-risk students. I love all things creative. I am deeply passionate about helping people find their voice in dark places. I’m excited to be part of the VOYCE National Youth Council, to represent and advocate for those currently in care.
Josh Wharehinga (Māhaki, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa) describes himself as ‘first and foremost, a father’ to his six young adults. Born and raised in Gisborne, Josh’s upbringing was typically ‘gang related’ which he attributes to helping shape his worldview, how he approaches being a dad and his work in the community.
Josh’s background is in education, social work and driving community initiatives. Josh is currently the Deputy Mayor of the Gisborne District and is elected to the District Health Board where he chairs the all of health committee, Hiwa-I-Te-Rangi.
Josh has an extensive governance background formerly holding positions on Te Mana Whakahaere – the board for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Te Maruata Roopu Whakahaere – the Māori advisory board to Local Government New Zealand, the Audit and Risk Committee of Local Government New Zealand.
Alice has joined the VOYCE board with a passion for improving New Zealand’s social systems so that every child and whānau have what they need. The VOYCE kaupapa is particularly close to her heart, having become a foster mum two years ago.
Alice has spent the past 15 years in consulting and project roles, primarily advising the government’s social sector and Māori organisations. She is focused on enabling citizen-centric design and fundamentally believes that empowering community-led solutions is the key to New Zealand’s wellbeing. Having spent most of her career in the ivory towers that are the central government policy shops, she has seen how necessary it is that the voice of the community is elevated and at the forefront of decision-making. There is nothing more powerful than directly hearing the voices of lived experience, and advocacy organisations such as VOYCE Whakarongo Mai are key to real transformation.
Alice loves to spend time with her husband Nick, son Kaha, her mum and dad, brothers and sisters, and their children. To keep her busy she coaches CrossFit at CrossFit Central Wellington and is an ongoing learner of te reo Māori.
Hello, my name is Kellie, and I am one of the young trustees on the board. I am a banking and finance solicitor, specialising in property and acquisition finance. I assist both lenders and borrowers with funding requirements in New Zealand and abroad.
I am also deeply passionate about youth advocacy and supporting our older children through transitioning into independence. It is my intention to prioritise children’s well-being and consistently have children involved in each and every decision we make. I am a firm believer in ‘your past doesn’t determine your future’ and truly think that every child can succeed if given the right support system/person.
Ko Hokianga me Kaipara ngā moana
Ko Ngātokimatawhāorua me Mahuhu-ki-te-rangi ngā waka
Ko Te Tārai o Rāhiri me Tokatoka ngā maunga
Ko Te Tārai o Rāhiri me Otamatea ngā marae
Ko Mangakahia me Otamatea ngā awa
Ko Ngāpuhi me Ngāti Whātua ngā iwi
Ko Ngāti Toki me Te Uri o Hau ngā hapū
Ko Māhera Maihi tēnei
Māhera is a young dynamic Māori wahine whose life mission is to change the world one Māori at a time. Raised in Tāmaki Makaurau (Otara, Manurewa and Papakura) as a third-generation urban Māori she experienced life as a Māori in the city, disconnected from her culture and history. Although gangs and poverty was a part of her childhood experience, this was not going to define her future. Māhera started her career in office mastering processes and systems when she finally pivoted into her dream mahi which is working with young people in care to give them tools to break the cycle for themselves.
She has spent eight years working in Social Services both in government and iwi spaces in Tai Tokerau and Tāmaki and is currently studying a Masters of Māori and Management. She is a very active member of her whānau, hapū and iwi as a member on her marae board for Te Tārai o Rāhiri, Co-Director of Ngāpuhi ki Tāmaki and founder of Mā Te Huruhuru Charitable Trust. Coming from a large family of seven sisters and three brothers Māhera is determined to contribute to improving Māori outcomes, restorative justice and creating a better future for the many generations to come.
Jeff Sanders has experience as a senior manager and chief executive in the NGO sector, working in organisations focused on providing services that make a positive difference to people’s lives. These include IHC NZ, the Methodist Church, Relationships Aotearoa, and Barnardos NZ, from which he retired as Chief Executive in early 2019.
Through his career, Jeff has been connected to local community needs. This has given him a desire and ability to seek out systemic change and ensure excellent provision of services. He has strong relationships across the NGO and government sector, and he has built effective leadership teams in the organisations he has led.
Jeff has experience and understanding of how governance structures operate. He also has a strategic understanding of what is required when new programmes of work are implemented. He understands and is committed to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Mana is uncle to two beautiful babies (Rae and Abel), Graduate Policy Analyst at MSD, and is studying towards his Masters in Social Work (at Massey) and an LLB (at VUW), and holds a BCOM in Public Policy and International Business. He previously worked for Oranga Tamariki in the Tamariki Advocate Group, and policy teams for two years, and has loved being an advocate on the board of VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, and other boards, for over three years.
Mana is proud of the work VOYCE has achieved for tamariki, rangatahi and whānau so far, and looks forward to the day where whānau are able to determine their own lives without the state needing to be there. Mana was placed into care when he was 8 months old – and was whāngai (adopted) by his aunty and uncle when he turned 12. He was a part of a youth advisory group at 17 (Te Whānau Aroha) which helped advise Ministers to overhaul Child Youth and Family (CYFs) into what is now Oranga Tamariki.
For fun, Mana enjoys keeping super fit doing legs at the gym – group fitness, music from the 80’s, and meeting people with passion and drive. He was recently appointed as Deputy Chair for VOYCE and is gratefully honoured to continue supporting the kaupapa of the organisation even more.
Shanye Walker is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago in the Social and Community Work Programme. In 2019 Shayne was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to fostering children and social work.
An orphan at age 13, he was put into state care after both of his parents died in a matter of weeks. Later, Shayne went on through Maatua Whangai, an approved iwi/Māori social service provider, to help foster 192 young people, predominantly Māori and Pacific young men, over 12 years.
A staunch advocate for caregivers in New Zealand, Shayne puts his success as a foster parent down to his ability to show love, build trust, and listen to people’s stories. He is an unofficial kaumātua for Oranga Tamariki and a former Chair of the Social Workers Registration Board. He has been a member of various expert advisory bodies to take action against family and sexual violence. Shayne is currently on the Family Violence Death Review Committee and has served on the Child, Youth and Family Care and Protection Resources Panel.
Kia ora, my name is Sapphire and I’m 18 years old and I live in Christchurch. I’m passionate about making a difference in the care system and enjoy being involved in Tuhono events at VOYCE Whakarongo Mai. I am a member of the local Fire Brigade and love the challenge of it. When I have downtime, which is rare, I enjoy relaxing. As a member of the National Youth Council I want to make sure all care experienced youth know their worth, and know that they are not alone.
Kia Ora, my name is Rylie and I’m excited to be a part of the youth council to help make some changes in the system. I enjoy making connections with people and being creative.
Kia ora, my name is Zeran. I am very excited to start on my first year at the Youth Council doing leadership development. I am extremely passionate about being able to express my voice through the NYC. Outside of the Youth Council I work on a Youth Development and sail training ship called the R Tucker Thompson. In my own time I enjoy sailing and mau rakau.
Sawasdee Ka! My name is Jennifer and I have been in care my whole life, both in state care and family friend care. I am a part of VOYCE because I am passionate in ensuring that we as care experienced youth are equipped to succeed and are NOT overlooked any longer. Fun fact: I stream online in my free time because I enjoy creating a safe space for people and making them life at my terrible video game playing.
Kia ora. My name is Natalia. I want to be involved in making change for children in Care, which is why I’m a part of this council. I was placed in care when I was 12 years old – I was in two placements before my forever home. I didn’t have good experiences of social workers with the exception of one. Kids in care now should have a better experience than this.
Kia orana my name is Terina. I have come here to VOYCE WKM NYC to develop skills and to understand more about the youth bc that is something I am passionate about. Outside of the YC I am studying at MIT in my first year of degree in social work. Also being an amazing role model for my son to look up to me and think “damn, my Mum is amazing”.
Kia ora my friend. I’m Ebony. I’m in my first year of the VOYCE Whakarongo Mai National Youth Council. I live in Auckland with my partner Mac and fur baby Ezra. I’m studying a Bachelor of Social Work with aspirations to work in the health sector. I feel like there is so much out there to help people but it can be tricky to find that stuff when you are in a challenging space. I want to be a resource to help people get what they need, and empower those tangata to navigate through their journey.
Kia ora my name is Karah. I currently study psychology and religion at Otago University and work with primary school children through various OSCAR programs. I am passionate about creating nurturing an open environment for our future rangatahi.
Hi, I’m Albie! I came into care at 16 and I’m extremely passionate about making changes in the system. I especially want to support and foster community to support youth like me with autism and mental health needs. I love aquarium fish and plants and in my free time I make cards for kids in care. After I finish high school I plan to be an academic psychologist or an early childhood educator.
Kia ora. My name is Hamish and I live in Palmerston North. I joined the national youth council to help advocate for kids in care. I specifically want to help youth justice involved youth because of my experience being one. This is an area I am passionate about. I am also a father to a handsome 5 year old boy. I enjoy playing volleyball, touch rugby and taking my son to the river.
Malo e lelei My name is Khrystian. I grew up most of my life in Tonga on a small island called Niua. I am 17 years of age and I live in Mangere, Auckland. I like to meet new people and to help others. I am an artist. I like to draw, I enjoy doing lettering and font work. I also enjoy sports, including soccer and cricket. I joined the national youth council because I want to support the voices of young people to be heard. I have high hopes to make if far in my life.
Hi, my name is Fatima. I come from Syria and in 2005 I settled in Auckland with my family. I experienced care for the first time a few years later. The experience of care for me is something I don’t wish upon anyone else. Fast forward five years, I am currently doing NCEA level 2 and still living in care. I am passionate about makeup artistry and enjoy getting involved in sport.
Being a part of the VOYCE National Youth Council for me means achieving better care experiences for young people who come after me. I believe I am the strong, confident woman I am today due to the adversities I have faced in care. Despite what I have been through, family is still the most important thing to me. Being in care has taught me that no one else gets to define me, I get to choose who I want to be.
Abbie has cared about the environment and equity since she was young and she feels driven to help create a world where nature and people flourish. In 2019 she received a Women of Influence award for her work on sustainability and climate change.
Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Council until December 2019 and previously the Head of Sustainability and Vodafone Foundation at Vodafone New Zealand Abbie has been involved in VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai from the beginning. As one of four philanthropists collaborating to support the establishment of VOYCE Whakarongo Mai Abbie was part of the advocacy design and establishment of the organisation and has been a Trustee since 2017.
Rachael Tuwhangai – Bio to come…
Kia Ora, Talofa lava, Bula Vanaka and Kia Orana. My name is Amanda, I’m 23 years old and I come from Wellington. I work in administration as a receptionist for Ora Toa Poneke. Ora Toa is a Ngati Toa founded and owned organisation. I work within their area that provides health services to Maori. I’m proud to work for them as they hold values that align with my own. I strongly stand for tika and pono, integrity and honesty. Whaanau is very important to me, I love spending time with my nieces and nephews. Cooking for others is also something I enjoy doing in my spare time.
I recently worked at Oranga Tamariki for six months under a supported employment internship. It taught me that the voice I have is important and valued. I wanted to join the VOYCE National Youth Council because I want all young people in care to know that their voices are also important, valued and heard. Within my role on the VOYCE National Youth Council I strive to uphold tika and pono by doing what I say I will do and following through.
My name is Jacob. I am one of the founding members of the original Youth Council. I have six siblings, and I was lucky to grow up with many of them, even looking after a few of them for quite a long time. Life was very unstable with no friends and lots of different schools. I eventually went into foster care and to a loving, safe, stable home with a lovely foster mum. I got to start being who I was, and learn what my values and identity were. My care experience involves having a life without the right support when younger – and then getting the right access and services later in life. I have experienced the positive difference that being in care can bring. My home now is Whangaparoa –my community involves Church, school, and home.
I never thought I was a leader, but other people saw my potential. I am an excellent communicator and relate well to people. Being a part of the VOYCE National Youth Council has given me the drive to help others. I believe that no matter what you’ve been through, whatever your ability, that you can achieve success and make the most of life. Recently I’ve been proud of attending Outward Bound. I had no expectations and the outcome was life-changing. It really taught me that you really can do anything. My passions are helping young people and trying to make a positive impact on young people’s lives through mental health adversities in NZ. I’m going to be a primary school teacher, and I love being an advocate for other young people.
Kia ora, my name is Katarina and I’m from Christchurch. I whakapapa to Nga Puhi and Tu Whare Toa. I’m a Year 13 at Kaiapoi High School and I live out in Oxford. Currently I be making that money at Maccas. My dream is to study Maori Indigenous Studies and Social Work at UC. I’m a pretty shy person. I used to be really out there. But once I get to know you, I’ll never forget you.
When I was 11 years old, my mum got sick and my dad was an alcoholic. I couldn’t live with them and I put myself into care. I regretted it. Disappointing times in care for me included not being fully accepted by my foster siblings. Being told you don’t belong sucks. I’ve met a lot of people through care. It hasn’t been all bad, I’ve seen lots of places and had lots of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t in care. Being in care has such a bad stigma. I want to change this. People don’t understand, they don’t know what it’s like. It’s not like I want to be in care! I’ve put myself forward to be in the VOYCE National Youth Council because I want to make a change to ensure kids in the future don’t have to go through what I went through. To make sure that the next generation are heard while they go through care.
As one of the original members of the National Youth Council, I have had the privilege of seeing VOYCE grow hugely over the past two years. I look forward to continuing to represent young people in care, contributing to the improvement of the care system for those who move through it in the future, and getting to know and work alongside all the other great young people on the council this year. My experience in care has been very positive because my current foster family was so supportive and I am still very close with them now.
Originally from Auckland, I was in and out of care for the first eight years of my life until I moved out to Miranda, a small town in the North Waikato, for my permanent placement with the family I lived with until I left home to start university. I am an honest, disciplined and hard-working person who values integrity, fairness, and the building and sharing of knowledge. I am currently in my second year studying Law, Economics and Genetics at Otago University and in my spare time I enjoy playing tennis and debating.
My name is Javaughn but I go by my preferred name “Jay.” I was born as a premature baby on the 19th of September 1998, along with my twin brother Richard. I am focused on my future, and new life changing experiences, such as completing an Outward Bound Course, joining my local football club and being on the VOYCE National Youth Council. A fun fact that not many people know about me is I love acting, I was born an introvert but for some unknown reason I love acting as different characters, even if it’s on camera!
I have a lot of hobbies, and sports would probably have to be the main one for me. I’m literally one of those guys who would play out any sport even if I had no experience in it whatsoever, I love keeping active. I’m currently training for a triathlon, I get a huge rush of the pain that I go through in the moment which I’m able to push myself through and test my limits. I also love the tactical aspect of triathlons, especially the fast-paced transitions from race to race – which gives it that little extra excitement – this is why I love triathlons so much!
Kia Ora everybody, my name is Lakiesha, at the ‘old’ age of 18, I have experienced a lot of life!
I was put into care at 6 weeks old. Little did I know that I was going to be lucky enough to get a home for life. I had a loving, stable family, two older siblings that I have always looked up to and parents who worked so hard to make sure we had the best life possible. My mum worked as a foster parent, she is such a powerful force in my life still to this day.
Between the ages of 13-16, I lost a lot of myself. I turned to a world of bad relationships, drugs and alcohol because that felt to be the only thing that was keeping me alive. I went back into state care, which changed my life again, forever. I got moved from house to house until I met my current amazing caregivers. Since I turned 16 I’ve learned many different skills and values. My dad passed away in 2018 and that also taught me a lot of things, and since then I have gained my certificate in mental health and addiction support work and got my NCEA level 3 credits. I am currently studying social work at Northtech University, and will then go on to get my masters. I am a care experienced rangatahi and I’m proud of being on the VOYCE National Youth Council and of how far I have come.
My name is Alchimae and I am 17 years old. Because my parents were really young when they had me, they didn’t quite know everything they needed to and so I spent 3 different times in my childhood in care. Even though I was just a child, I feel like I was never asked about my thoughts and feelings. Going through the care system was really hard, and hearing the experiences of my foster siblings and other care experienced young people made me realise that lots of assumptions are made by Oranga Tamariki when it comes to judging families. Due to be being care experienced, I’ve had opportunities to learn and give back to others, which is not to say the end justified the means!
Today I go to Sancta Maria College, and my parents were able to be the people I needed them to so I could become the person I am today. I want to be a psychologist when I am older – I was inspired by the people I met along my care journey. I hope I can continue to use my care experience to make positive impacts on others.
Hello everyone, my name is Oliver and I am 19 years old and from Auckland. I had a challenging care experience that changed when I got a very caring, loving and understanding carer. They want the best for me and give me a place to call home so that I can pursue my life dreams. I’m a part-time labourer and recently got my driver’s license. I am studying building and architecture at Skills Update Training Institute in South Auckland and I am half-way through my studies. I am a very hands-on learner which has enabled me to be a self-taught artist who likes to play guitar and drums. I am honest, caring, reliable and down to earth. My strong values help me stay on track to be the best I can be.
I wanted to join the National Youth Council to make a difference in the care system and stand up for the rights of children and young people in care. I want to help children find themselves and inspire others to make positive life changes based off of my experiences.
Hi! I’m Zak. I grew up in foster care from the ages of 7 – 17.
I had a lot of interesting experiences going through the state care system and not all of them were good. It’s a difficult place to be in when you’re taken away from your family and placed in a kids home, but it doesn’t always have to be all bad. I had a good share of wonderful people scattered throughout my life to help me survive my time and thrive when I came out on the other side. Without this support, I may not be where I am today. I wish that everyone could have someone to be by their side to support and love them, and help them achieve their life goals..
Since leaving foster care I have worked to give back to the community of carers by sharing my experiences, speaking at conferences telling them what worked (and what didn’t), and working in other ways to improve the care system, sometimes with government. I feel like it’s the least I can do to say thank you to those who helped me, and an opportunity for me to become one of those people who made my life not so bad.
My goal is to leave the world better than it was so I am studying to be an engineer (in the field of robotics and automation) on top of helping improve the quality of life for those living in foster care. I’m nearing the end of my studies but not the end of my time giving what I can to people in need.
Mother, foster mother, social worker and Chief Executive. Tracie is a leading protagonist for getting the voice of children in care to be heard in the system and reflected in practice. Having spent most of her working life in the social services and foster care sector, Tracie has been profoundly affected by the disenfranchisement of the children in the care system in New Zealand.
Tracie was actively involved in lobbying for change and achieving an independent organisation for children in care. She has been involved in VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai since its inception as an idea. One of her greatest pleasures was co-designing, with young people, what this advocacy agency for young people with care experience would look like.
Tracie’s work in this sector has been about advocacy on behalf of, with, and for children. The need to have the young people’s voice influencing the care system has been a major driver for her. With a career history in social services, Tracie has a long relationship with foster care, and is pleased to now continue this work as Chief Executive of VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.