Tracey Lee

Social Worker, Moana Night Shelter - New Zealand

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Social Work

Since age 14, Tracey knew the difference she wanted to make in the world. Raised in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, she was exposed to an environment where alcohol abuse and violence were a regular occurrence.

“That ugliness was normalised when I grew up. Our tamariki are the most vulnerable and I wanted to help break that cycle.”

A mother of five, Tracey began a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Waikato, in Tauranga. The Bachelor of Social Work is a professional qualification for anyone who wants to make a difference to people’s lives and create positive changes to society – a perfect fit for Tracey.

Balancing study with family was challenging, but Tracey says the most important thing was having the right support network, including Te Toka Māori Mentor support and a close circle of classmates.

“The lecturers were also incredibly supportive, they provide the time and attention. While we had grades to maintain they also understood we were human.”

After graduating with Honours, Tracey joined Tauranga Moana Night Shelter as a social worker. The centre is Tauranga’s first homeless shelter for men.

“My role is about connecting people with people and accessing resources for our most vulnerable. We advocate for those who don’t have a voice.”

She clearly loves her job, but is keen to emphasize the importance of her team and the difference they are all helping make. The shelter has successfully rehoused 15 men since it was established last year. Tracey is now considering postgraduate study in mental health and addictions.

“For me, education was freedom, it’s given me everything I wanted. I’m a social worker. I still pinch myself.”

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