Matiu Brokenshire started growing up with a lot of dysfunction in his home. He discovered drugs at a young age, started committing crimes, and he was physically and emotionally abusive. Now this Christchurch whānau support worker is sharing his journey to keep himself accountable and help change the course of others who are on the path he left behind.
“Inside, I wanted change. I knew that what I was doing was terrible. The way I lived my life was terrible. The way I treated women was terrible. The way I treated myself was terrible.”
He wanted to be a better role model for his children. He didn’t want them to grow up the way he did.
“About seven years ago I realised that I was repeating some cycles. And my children, they were growing up and they weren’t going to have any positive role models. They were going to be doing exactly what I’m doing. So, I made a decision to change.”
He came to He Waka Tapu Trust to get the help he needed and approached other agencies as well to support him in his journey of change.
“I faced a lot of trauma, quite a lot of tears, faced a lot of historical baggage and started that long journey.”
When he was ready, he got asked by a friend who works at He Waka Tapu Trust if he wanted to come and work to support other people.
“The opportunity arose and now I’ve been working for the Domestic Violence Team for three years.”
Brokenshire now supports men who come through the courts, supporting them in their own journeys to a better life and finding their better selves.
He also runs the 0800 Hey Bro line with two other colleagues. This service, initiated by his colleague Damien Peterson, is a 24-hour phone line for men to ring when they are feeling on edge or not coping with life and feeling that they may act out in violence.
He knew he had the lived experience and the passion, plus the support of his team, but he was still a rough diamond that needed refining. To support people better, he decided to arm himself with education.
“I didn’t have any education. I’d never done anything like this before, and then I discovered the Careerforce apprenticeship and it’s just done wonders for me.”
“I’m doing an Apprenticeship in Social Services through Careerforce. The learning has just enhanced my practice and added to my experience.”
He said the apprenticeship and being able to learn while earning a living worked really well for him.
“Careerforce absolutely supported me in maintaining my established hours, understanding that I still have a job to do, I still have people to connect to, that the whaiora is the number one priority. They help me to manage my studying structure and it has been amazing.”
Brokenshire says that the social and community sectors today need more people. “The biggest challenge in this sector today I would say, not enough people to work with the people in need. There are times I realise that I’ve given more to others than I have my own. And I think that’s indicative of a whole lot of us in this field.”
Brokenshire admits he is still very much on the journey of change himself. People who knew him in the past are still skeptical, but he is willing to bear that and continue his work to supporting other people who want to turn their life around for the better.