The Power of Personal Stories

On May the 20th, the Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga network gathered together at Migrant Action Trust (MAT). As we move towards establishing our Sponsoring Committee by mid-year 2019, our network meetings are an opportunity for organisations to get to know each other. Together we embark on a process of establishing common ground for our emerging alliance.

Sr Lee Tan is a recent addition to the Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga organising team. Lee shared with us about the community organising concepts of self-interest and relational meeting. Our ability to act together as an alliance is linked to our trust and understanding of each other, and of our members/communities. Self-interest is seeing ourselves and our story in and amongst the story of others. Our self-interest connects to our motivation for seeking social change and the stories and experiences that shape us. Through the sharing of stories in relational meetings, we uncover self-interest and lay the foundation for an alliance.

Migrant Action Trust (MAT) shared with us their stories as individuals and as an organisation. Amie Maga, Manager, shared with us the stress and difficulty she experienced without a driver's license as a mother of three living in Auckland. While working for MAT, she herself benefited from the Trust's Puketapapa Community Driving School (PCDS) which is a driving school run by migrants for migrants and the wider community. Community members able to pay the full amount for a driving lesson enables the school to provide free lessons to migrants and former refugees who are unable to afford driving lessons.

Through regular community hui, Migrant Action Trust surfaces stories from the migrant community, and shape the focus of their advocacy work. At a recent community hui, it was identified that the indefinite closure of the Parent Resident Visa is a deeply felt issue in the migrant community. At the hui, Chris Christian, an Indian community member shared his story of lodging an application for his parents’ residency in May 2016 but in October 2016 Immigration New Zealand stopped processing under the Parent Resident Visa category. He is an electronics engineer working with a company designing emergency systems for New Zealand fire service. He is working to save lives of people in New Zealand but he felt that his parents were treated like unnecessary intruders to this country.

At the Te Ohu network meeting, Chris shared that his father had an iron deficiency, and as a result, Immigration New Zealand required several rigorous medical tests. After all the efforts they have been through and two and a half years of waiting, there is still no indication of what will happen to Chris' parent's application and the 5000 other families with applications waiting in limbo.

While not all organisations who become part of the Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga Auckland alliance have migrant members, it is important that we can recognise the values that enable us to stand in solidarity in each other's concerns. Through the sharing of stories, we can relate to each other, not at an ideological level, but at a human, moral level. Then together we can stand in solidarity for the common good.


Upcoming events from member organisations:


Migrant Action Trust – Parent Resident Visa Core Team Planning meeting

24th May 5pm – 6pm @ Migrant Action Trust


NZEI – Auckland Teachers' Mega Strike March and Rally

29th May 11am @ Fort Street, City Centre


AAAP – Community Event Budget 2019 Not Enough Left

8th June 12:30 @ Wiri Community Hall