Graduate Profile

Ligi Pakieto-Johnstone

Ligi Pakieto-Johnstone - Social Services

Community Development Context for Social Services Graduate

“It’s great to be helping strengthen community again. This is the future. I see my work as more about community development than Social Services,” says Ligi Pakieto-Johnstone, recent Bachelor of Applied Social Services graduate from NorthTec. “Families are taking their power back now so there is not so much agency in their lives. In my new job as co-ordinator at Onerahi Resource Centre I can help enable this.”

After a four year learning journey, Ligi has returned to work amongst the community she grew up in.  “Two years of my training was in the Community Development stream at Unitec in Auckland. This introduced me to different models of community and gave me a lens to look further than the individual. Then my Mum was seriously ill so I returned to the north to be near her. I did the next two years of my study up here at NorthTec with the focus on the individual and I finished at the end of 2013.”

During her study, Ligi was juggling her learning with working up to fourteen hours a day. “At some stage I was working seven hours of paid work at Te Puna a Te Aroha (Maori Women’s Refuge) and then seven hours at Te Ora Hou (an organization that works with youth at risk) as part of my practicum. I still wonder how I did it. I know it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my husband and my children. The journey has simply unfolded and I could never have been better prepared than by being on the path I have been on. This includes my Mum’s passing.”

“I was also in the first year of roll-out of the Enquiry Action Learning (EAL) delivery of the NorthTec Social Services degree programme. I’m a kinaesthetic learner so it was perfect for me. We did group-led projects with the lecturer becoming more of a facilitator, and together we chose pathways which worked best for different scenarios. We had to learn to be team players while dealing with the dynamics of personality. We became like family as we learnt together. In those two years, I also developed my networks so my fellow students have now become my colleagues.”

Ligi’s new job came up before she even finished her degree. “This position came up in my final few weeks of study. I applied and got it. I grew up in this community and my family has been part of it for over seventy years, so it offered a great chance to give back. I love the job.”

Ligi especially loves working with people from different walks of life. “There are priceless moments most days and we are all learning every day. The challenge is to avoid taking over or becoming the expert. The people we work with are the experts on their own lives. By us working collaboratively and consultatively, they hold the power in their own lives. They simply need to see some different modelling and get a bit of guidance. The community I work with is my boss and I like that.”
Ligi’s own family has been inspired by her learning. “I am the first woman in our whole whakapapa to study and succeed in tertiary education. My daughter has mimicked my modelling and will graduate as a teacher next year. The possibilities are wide open now to all our next generations.”

“I was born at the change of tide and at the time, my grandmother said to my mother that I therefore had the capacity to change our whakapapa. I feel I have made that change by showing the power of education and knowledge. I feel I’ll be in this job back home in my own community for quite a while and I still volunteer for a day a week at hospice where I utilize the time to take me closer to my Mum.”

Read more about NorthTec's Bachelor of Applied Social Service

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