When Penelope* and her family first moved to New Zealand from Tonga, it was a tight fit staying with her uncle - with 13 people staying in the four-bedroom house her whole family was packed into a single room.  

This caused a lot of stress for her family, particularly her eldest daughter who developed anxiety and depression. They ran into barriers getting public housing since they had only been in New Zealand for a short time, but eventually managed to get emergency housing in a series of motels.

“It was better, but it still wasn’t good. We couldn’t really live - the neighbours would bang on the walls whenever my kids made any noise,” Penelope says.

It was a huge relief when she got an offer from Monte Cecilia of a space in one of our transitional homes, and then a longer-term community home in Remuera.

“Everything worked out and my kids now feel at home. They really enjoy having their own space and I can see the change in their school outcomes and behavior. I don’t have enough words to say what it means to us.”

“We can’t forget how Monte helped me and my family. We were not really familiar with NZ but Monte Cecilia made everything easier for me and my family.”

Penelope is currently studying to improve her employment prospects, and now that her family is housed her goal is to work towards owning her own home.

*not her real name