I was 18 when I had my first baby.

When I started him at the Papakura ELC, I used to just drop him off and run as fast as I could – I was really, really shy.

 After a while one of the staff told me I didn’t have to run off - I could stay for a bit. So I started staying. Then I met Louise Barry, the HIPPY coordinator at the time, who was a nice person.

I’ll never forget when she said to me: “Your boy is going to do HIPPY when he’s four and you are going to be a tutor.”

HIPPY was so lovely – I went to everything. I never missed a group meeting. The atmosphere was friendly and the tutors were great. They made you feel good about yourself. We had fun there and I started coming out of my shell a little bit.

By the time I started my little girl in Year One, while my son was on Year 2, there were two HIPPY tutors leaving and I was asked to become a tutor. 

This was my first employment since I was 18 and I loved the extra money. It was a really good feeling.

After having my babies I never thought about working, but I loved this. It made me feel good that the HIPPY team had confidence in me. They gave me so much encouragement.

I had left school during 6th Form (Year 12); all my friends were leaving. I was in love for the first time, I was naïve. 

When I got pregnant at 18, I thought I would never work again. I thought that was it for me.

But now I have been accepted into teacher training at the University of Auckland. I am going to do a degree! I can’t believe I am doing this.

Marissa is now her children


HIPPY gave me confidence.

I am a different mother at school than I would have been. I am not afraid to ask questions now. I ask about where my children should be at and how they are doing.

I think I would probably have done nothing about their problems before HIPPY, because I would have been too shy. I am the best advocate for my children now.

My children – and the other HIPPY children we know – are ahead at school. They are doing really well.

As a family we are more positive. We are better listeners. We are also really involved in our community.

Thanks to HIPPY I have much more confidence in myself and I have made all these connections in the community.

HIPPY taught me that I have a special talent for helping people. My partner jokes that I have “talk to me” tattooed on my forehead because everyone brings their problems to me now.

HIPPY also taught me to always have a sense of humour about everything - that really helps people to relax. And it taught me to respect other people, in order to gain their respect.

I would definitely recommend HIPPY to friends and family.


--Adapted from the HIPPY book, “We Talk in Our Family Now”, published 2004