Faataualofa Aiuta’s megawatt smile from across the dining table as we enjoy a coffee inside her new Bader Drive home says it all.
“We were really excited when we got the call to say that one of the new state homes in the Bader McKenzie Complex was available to look through,” she says.
“And when we actually got here and we saw this beautiful, brand new home, we just couldn’t believe it. We said ‘Wow! This is us!’ and it really felt like God was smiling down, making it happen,” she beams.
Alofa, as she prefers, migrated to Mangere from Samoa in early 2018 with her husband Malo and then one-year-old son Logopese. The young family were keen for a better life with more opportunity in New Zealand, but soon realised that with the extra opportunity came many challenges.
“In Samoa, our families live as one—we share our homes, raising our children, our land, everything,” she explains. “So when we arrived in Mangere, we lived with my husband’s uncle. But it was his house and he was paying for everything, so it felt very different. We were so grateful to him, but we wanted to stand on our own, walk our own path and really build a life here.”
After about six months, the family moved into state housing accommodation at several motels over the last year before getting the call about Bader Drive.
“Our friends told us to be patient, but it’s very hard when you’re a family of three living in one motel room. We were very thankful to have a roof over our heads, but our bed was right near the small kitchen bench and there was nowhere to store our food, no freezer and no cooking facility.”
Looking around her brand new, 6 Homestar rated home, Alofa says they’re still pinching themselves and thanking God for such a blessing.
“We only moved in about two weeks ago, but we’ve already met quite a few of our neighbours, including being reunited with several friends, which made us so happy!”
Thinking about her favourite part of her new home Alofa pauses and then says seriously, “Everything. Everything is my favourite. Our lives have changed so much. Our home is so quiet and warm thanks to the double-glazed windows and insulation, and that’s going to make such a difference to our health, particularly in winter.”
“It’s so fresh and clean, and there’s an awesome playground downstairs for our son too. It’s really nice not having to go searching for somewhere for him to play and he’s made lots of friends already.”
“That’s probably the thing we love the most about being in Mangere. Everyone is so friendly and there are so many Samoans here, so it really feels like a community. Our son was already going to preschool in Mangere, and now we can keep him with his friends when he starts school next year—it feels like everything has just fallen into place.”
“When we’re a bit more settled we’re looking forward to having our families over for a celebration barbeque and showing them around our new house. We keep telling them how amazing it is so they’re all desperate to come and see it with their own eyes!” she laughs.