Earning enough money to support my family
"Having a good job means I can contribute towards my family."
Tupou Vavaui Siuaaloi Mercer Laumanu, known as Mercer, is a 20 year old single mum who works full-time at the Silver Fern Farms processing facility in Dargaville.
It was quite a different story back in 2005, when as a 16 year old, Mercer became pregnant and left school. Her daughter Angelica was born in Hamilton and they were supported within her family unit of mother, father and an older sister.
Living on the Domestic Purposes Benefit was tough. “I really didn’t have enough money to support myself and my daughter”, Mercer remembers.
The family moved to Auckland when Angelica was just a year old. Mercer had the opportunity to earn some money, finding a part-time job as a lifeguard at the Mangere Swimming Pool while Mercer’s parents cared for Angelica.
“I loved my job at the pools because I met different people everyday. It was always a lot of fun and I was able to make a contribution to my living expenses”, Mercer said.
In February last year Mercer’s parents were asked by their church to move to Dargaville. Determined to find employment Mercer picked Kumara for a while. Kumara growing and processing is one of the key industries in the Kaipara.
“While at the Work and Income office one day, Mum noticed a Straight to Work poster promoting a career at the Silver Fern Farm processing facility”, Mercer explains. “Silver Fern is the largest employer in the Kaipara so I was keen to see if I could get on there.”
Through the Straight to Work programme, Silver Fern were recruiting new staff. “The partnership with Work and Income gave us a framework to interview, train and recruit new staff and we found it extremely successful”, said Dean McNaught, Plant Manager.
From day one Mercer was chomping at the bit to get started. “I really wanted to hurry up and start work”, she remembers. “You can’t continue to rely on Work and Income in your life; you have to make your own way sometime.”
Mercer really enjoys the team environment at work and being one of only four women in her section isn’t an issue. “We all support each other, the men and the women work together as one so that we can get the job done properly and on time.”
Recently engaged to be married, Mercer is working hard to save for her wedding early next year. “I feel so much better for earning my own money and supporting my daughter myself. I encourage everyone to get out there see what they can do for themselves – its well worth it.”