Dad of six's journey from the hood to Gisborne City Council

  • 30/07/2017

Watch the video above for the full report from The Hui.

From a life on the wrong side of the tracks, raising kids on the benefit to becoming a Gisborne Councillor, Josh Wharehinga knows all about overcoming adversity.

"Dad, he was a drug dealer right so he actually had a lot, he had a lot of resources but those were his and his boys' resources. Those weren't our resources, so we missed out on a lot."

He says growing up in the impoverished suburbs of Elgin and Kaitī in Gisborne, life was tough. Josh Wharehinga told Three's The Hui that "There were vast amounts of drugs, alcohol, violence, all of that kinda stuff in our environment. But when that's your norm you don't know that that's not supposed to be happening."

Since becoming a father at just 19, he's gone on to have six kids who he says are his greatest achievements. He studied to become a teacher and went on to become and academic advisor at New Zealand's second largest tertiary institution, Te Wananga o Aotearoa. He is now on its board of governors.

He credits his mother Maraea Cookson for instilling a love of education and doing her best to protect Josh and his six siblings from their tough environment.

"It hasn't been successful for us all. I'm the only one of my siblings that hasn't been in trouble with the police. Some of them have gone away and done time."

Despite the hardships, Josh's determination has seen him not only raise good kids but also become a hearings commissioner and a board member of the Tairāwhiti Health Board.

He was re-elected to the Gisborne City Council in 2016.

The Hui