With the biggest heart of anyone we know, meeting Corrina with her passion, compassion and drive to empower and restore mana to children, has been one of the highlights of our year. Captured as one of the people who continue to influence and inspire us, we talked to Corrina about not only what she does but who she is - the change she hopes to see in the world and what makes her truly happy.
Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?
I’m the Senior Mentoring Coordinator at Pillars in Manukau. Pillars is an NGO based in South Auckland that provides wrap around support for children and families with whanau in prison. I’ve worked for pillars since 2016 but I’ve been a volunteer mentor since 2012.
How did you come to work for Pillars?
While volunteering as a mentor, I became really passionate about the impact of incarceration on young people and it was a cause really close to my heart. So my role as a mentor became really important to me and at the same time I was going through my training to become a Teacher. I realised that working with young people and finding opportunities for them beyond the education sphere was where I wanted to go so when this role came available, it was meant to be.
Can you tell us how you came to work with MM?
It’s one of those crazy things - we have so many mentors that have such a vibrant, beautiful community of lovely people. So it was through our mentor Kath Francis who has been an amazing mentor with us for some time now. She is a huge fan of your work and your clothing. She was the bridge between us and put us in touch. She is so thrilled about the whole thing.
It’s been one of the best things that’s happened this year.
I think so too!
I know it hasn’t been long but do you have any favourite memories so far working with MM?
I would have to say the highlight was our t-shirt day together - that was really special. Thoughtfulness is really the best word to describe it, you guys brought real heart to that whole day. It really showed and came across with everyone that you really cared and wanted to be part of it. It was special. We’ve never done a day like that before where we’ve introduced the idea that our young people have rights. So it was quite an important moment for us, introducing the idea to them that they can be advocates for themselves as well as other people being advocates for them.
It was amazing to see how they really interacted and understood their rights.
They really loved it. I think anytime where somebody they haven’t met before becomes a part of their world it proves to them that people really listen and care about what they think and what they have to say. That can have a resounding impact on young people's self worth and the way they see themselves fitting in the world.
What makes you, you? Separate from your job, who are you as a person?
I would describe myself as an animal lover and a people lover and just somebody who is really interested in the world being a happy place for everyone and everything. I love wine and I love food! I’m an outdoorsy person - I’m not a ‘go to the mall’ person. I love being with family or at the beach.
What are the three things you value most in others?
That's a great question. I think passion - passion for me is a really integral part of a happy life. It's one of those things that I think when you're working with young people, it doesn't matter what your passion is - but find out. Try lots of different things and find out what it is that makes you, you, what sets your fire. Once you care about something you're bound to enjoy it and motivate yourself towards it. So I think having passion is really important. Also being down to earth and knowing that everyone has a story, and we have a lot to learn from each other. And probably humour. Life can get a bit serious and we’re not here for a long time in the big scheme of things so have fun while you can. I love that, everyone so far has said a sense of humour.
I think in our busy day to day, we don’t put enough value on having a good laugh with other people, it can make all the difference.
So how did you find your passion?
I think my passion for children of prisoners came from personal experience - of having that first hand experience in my own family and really just wanting to be part of - I don't want to say the solution - but part of a community that can be empowering and restore mana to children that have been through a lot, and restore some of what has been taken away in some cases.
What are the things that make you happiest?
My family. My friends. My dog - he’s a rescue staffy and he is my baby. I know I’ll be a mum to a real baby soon but he’ll always be my other baby. I think the people and pets around you are the most important things in the world.
What change do you hope to see in the world?
I would love to see all young people who are impacted by incarceration really have an unshakable self belief that they matter and the world wants to know what they’re about, because they are amazing. That would be my dream come true, that those young people don’t feel ostracised from the world - that they feel connected and that they can do whatever they want to do. That's what I would love.
Finally, where is your Somewhere? The place where you feel most at peace, grounded, revived and regenerated.
I would say Northland, where my family and my husband's family are from. I’m not a zen person, (I wish I was more of a zen person), but I’m really trying to foster some ability to have that sense of being somewhere, of peace, everywhere I go. It’s a piece of mind, and I would like to be able to access that no matter where I am. But, I find when I’m up North, it comes without trying because I feel away from the rat race of it all and with being close to family.