Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Today I am writing this as my last day as CEO of Mangere East Family Service Centre Inc … now ME Family Services. It is not the end of the journey though … I will be continuing on as Chair and will be contracted to do some work to support the Board and the leadership team.

It is a journey that grew out of a cluster of seeds - a baby found in a box at Walter Massey Park; a school and community that did not have connections to the support and resources it needed, a government facing increasing pressure to address families facing extreme pressures and a group of people wanting to make changes … that was 1993. In April 1994 MEFSC Inc was formed and I was appointed from the working group to be the first ‘Director’.

My moving on is neither sudden nor surprising. It is part of the growth and regeneration of ME Family Services, a process celebrated at Matariki, and in tune with our role as kaitiaki of papatuanuku, whakapapa, whakawhanaungatanga and manaaki tangata.

In 2014 as we reflected on 20 yrs of community engagement by Mangere East Family Service Centre Inc. we still wanted to do more for our families and communities. We began a naming process around ME …ME Family Services … growing out of Mangere East to embrace the challenge and opportunity that the potential is in ME. This led to learnings about ‘me’ ko au … who am I? And about our teams .. Manaaki Tangata, Early Childhood, Parenting Engagement, Talking Rubbish … and then as a whole … we. We as an organisation and we as community and neighbourhood … but this was interrupted.

The impact of CoVid-19 from early 2020 until the present has significantly changed the balance of well-being and priorities. It interrupted our normal in a way nothing else has. And it has challenged all to reflect on being fully themselves, in families and communities which are resilient and thriving, and places which regenerate the waterways and land we inhabit.

In the midst of CoVid-19, in the midst of addressing our strategic review, in the midst of creating succession within the Board, and the leadership of ME Family Services, the sudden death of our Chair Peter Cleland catalysed action now. So in December 2021 the Board seconded me to be Chairperson and asked Carole to step into the role as Acting CEO. In the past 6 months, while still in the shadows of CoVid, and in the midst of global and local challenges we have continued to review and evolve.

I want to thank the Board, Carole and the leadership team for their work over this period for their support and perseverance The Board has evolved - Losa Tui and Liz Muliaga joined Walter Fraser, Rosi Fitzpatrick, Sheryl Waru, Biddy Whateley… and then Sheryl gained a role in Wellington and has left. Dew James-Powys is on parental leave. Each has faced personal and professional challenges … thanks for staying with us.

- Manaaki Tangata has new leadership in Heidi San Juan and Liza Zapata and have been joined by many new social workers … welcome. Thanks to the team who have persevered through the challenges. A bold new future arises.

- Early Childhood - Karen, has journeyed with the flows of ME and becomes the last of the oldies - the holder of our stories, te ahi kaa, thank you … as a team, they have also faced many challenges and changes as individuals … and as we seek to reconnect after CoVid … and build brighter futures for our tamariki and their whanau

- Talking Rubbish - Justine has kept adjusting to the team changes, and the challenges and opportunities increase as we recognise the need to care for our place Our core … Gareth keeps on keeping on .. often being the ‘no more gaps’ link person .. often by remote.

- And for Carole … thanks for taking the risk of stepping into the Acting CEO role, at the same time handing over the Manaaki Tangata leadership, picking up the opportunities as we rebuild a new normal and taking the lead into the next stages of ME Family Services.

My resignation as CEO allows the Board to appoint a new CEO to keep us moving forward, a future full of potential and regeneration … continuing to build thriving resilient people, in thriving resilient communities and places. My role as Chair and ‘consultant/advisor’ means that we keep continuity and opportunity in our journeys.

Thank you for the opportunities for working with ME Family Services as Director and CEO; and for the new doors and pathways ahead


Peter Sykes