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In Pakuranga Park Village, residents hear her voice and they get up to follow. Vaelupe (Lupe) Hill is the rest home’s Activities Assistant, a role that she is very passionate about.

“What I do is I organise events according to the needs of the residents and organise activities to stimulate their brains. I want them to have a better life and enjoy life,” shares Lupe.

“I organise outings, bowls, games and events. I organise people to come to entertain the residents too.”

She says their favourite activity is going to another centre to play against their residents in a friendly game of bowls. 

Lupe’s passion is rooted deeply from growing up in Samoa where she looked after her grandparents. In her role, she treats the residents as she would her own grandparents.

Bringing her own cultural flair into work has been very well received. She says, “I’m loud and I always come with a big smile, so maybe that’s why they all come to join in.”

Now in her fifties, she is very happy to finally get a certificate. She recently completed an Apprenticeship in Community Facilitation specialising in Diversional Therapy through industry training organisation, Careerforce. This achievement means a lot to Lupe and her family.

“My daughter cried! Because I always told my children I didn’t have an education. That my self-esteem was low when it comes to learning new things.” The family celebrated her graduation with dinner and flowers for her. She is also now a registered Diversional Therapist with the New Zealand Society of Diversional Therapists.

Lupe said that she learnt so much from the apprenticeship programme. “I learnt about the resources that are out there, I know where to go for help, I know my rights and the residents’ rights.” She adds that with her new knowledge and the connections she has made, she can help the residents and their families better.    

She admits that initially she thought language can be a barrier, but with hard work and the support from the people around her including her Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, she managed to complete the programme.

She now encourages other Pasifika people to do the apprenticeship programme. In her own time, she is actually supporting a current apprentice that she met through a Careerforce-organised talanoa/discussion. Lupe is helping her navigate her own apprenticeship journey by sharing her experiences.

She thinks Pacific Island people are made for this caring industry. She says, “I hope the Pacific Island people come forward because they’ve got that natural outgoing attitude, they have a big heart for their parents and respect for elderly people.”

“You just walk in with a big smile and it speaks a fountain of languages.”

Read more about the Apprenticeship in Diversional Therapy