Fakalofa lahi atu, my name is Kulatea Alapaki, (Kula)and I was born in Niue Island. I migrated to New Zealand in August 1972 when I was eleven years old. Since I left my beautiful Island 30 years ago, I have lived in South Auckland (Manukau City), East Tamaki in Otara, and Mangere – this is my ‘Iwi’. I speak Niuean and English is my second language. I studied te reo when I was at college and I understand the culture and language of the Tangata Whenua.
When I was a child I had glue ears or white fluid. There was no medication or doctor back home to provide appropriate medical support for this particular health issue. When we arrived in New Zealand my parents did not seek medical help for my health problems due to language and financial difficulties. By my mid-thirties my hearing was very bad and I had difficulty communicating with my family, friends, work colleagues and clients. My doctor referred me to the audiology clinic at the hospital. The audiology report said my hearing was badly damaged and recommended that I urgently purchase hearing aids to enable me to have a normal life. I applied to ACC to help fund my hearing aids, but this was unsuccessful because there was no record from my doctor to say that I had had glue ears as a child. My current hearing aids cost me four thousand dollars.
When I was 29 I had a heart attack and was admitted to Middlemore Hospital. The following year I was also diagnosed with gout. I am on medication for the rest of my life. The good news is that I no longer have gout! Open communication and a good relationship with my GP helped me to achieve this positive outcome.
I have been a social worker for 26 years. I have worked in the Government sector and now I work at the Mangere East Family Service Centre, which is a non-government organisation.
I hope my experience working with the Commission's Consumer Network will have a positive impact on my local community in South Auckland. I believe that working together across Government, NGOs and with my community will help people in my community meet their needs - and this is key to a HEALTHY, HAPPY, SAFE LIFE.