Horowhenua social worker awarded Civic Honour

Published: November 20, 2020

Horowhenua caregiver social worker Therase Apatu has a deep social conscience and passion for those facing hardship.

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Therase Apatu - Oranga Tamariki caregiver social worker

Since 2014, Therase has been leading an initiative in the Horowhenua area to provide gifts to children at Christmas who would otherwise miss out.

Therase and her work brightening the lives of children in the area has now been recognised with a Civic Honours Award presented by Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden.

I love... seeing kids and families having fun.

Therase, Horowhenua caregiver social worker

Determination, enthusiasm and organisational skills

Therase says she started up the Christmas box initiative simply because she knew there were kids out there missing out, and she had the energy to help. 

“I’m one of those people who can’t not be doing anything.”

She has also served for many years as a volunteer, committee member and chairperson for the annual Children’s Day free event in Levin. Every year, hundreds of families benefit from this free day of fun activities to celebrate children and young people.

“Children’s Day is just a lot of fun,” Therase says. “I love walking around on the day and seeing kids and families having fun.”

Seeing where there is need

More recently in 2018, Therase saw another need in the community and launched ‘Bare Essentials’ to distribute hygiene products to women experiencing financial hardship.

“I just thought, there’s nothing worse than a woman having a period and nothing to use.”

Whānau boxes this year

Therase’s Christmas box initiative grew from 200 gifts delivered to children in its first year to 1600 last year. The community donates gifts for children of all ages and volunteers gather and match them to children nominated by community services and groups.

This year, Therase decided to change things up a bit and is organising whānau boxes instead.

“Lots of families lives have changed this year through no fault of their own and many are struggling through the effects of COVID.”

“We are gathering items for mum, dad, kids, just to take the pressure off.”

A strong community

In the lead up to Christmas, Therase’s colleagues rally around her to help with the boxes.

At the award ceremony, there were a lot of people in attendance that had worked alongside her over the years in the area.

“They were pleased for me, and that was really nice.”

“People here are passionate about what they do.”

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Therase with Mayor Bernie and supporters