This post was transcribed directly from a focus group recording made during my research. The woman’s name has been changed and any information that could potentially identify her has been removed. In places I have inserted words for clarity (enclosed within square brackets), and in others I have taken out words (indicated by … ), usually because this information contained some identifying features.
Teuila, aged 37, not currently receiving a benefit
I don’t like people at Work & Income. Serious, honest I don’t like people at Work & Income. I don’t like them. … They’re unhelpful. They’re not like respect[ing] us, how they talk. No I don’t like them. … The offices are scary, scary. It’s like a scary office when you go over there. To be honest when I go there, I don’t know if it’s a good person or a bad person. I think … they’re not respect[ing] me.
That lady – my case manager – that’s [a] really scary lady. I don’t like her … I don’t like how she talk[s] and how she ask[s] question, keep[s] asking and she always tell[s] me to look for a job. I said “yeah I can look for a job but I’m still looking”. I’m not gonna go straight over there and they’ll say “oh yeah you can come work tomorrow”. But she keep[s] asking, pushing me to go work …
When I go inside Work and Income my mind just says “oh the scary house” and … I don’t want to go back over there. And [my case manager] always made an appointment for me to go see her every month so she can look for a job for me and I said … “I have to take my kids to school before I start” and she said “Oh you can find a job like when the kids go to school”. I say “Oh that depends [on] the job because you know its more important to take my kids to school and pick them up and make their dinner”.
Sometimes I think some Pakeha people [who] work at Work and Income must look at the colour and think “the Islander no way no help” But [it’s] not supposed to be like that eh? Sometime I think like that. They’re not gonna tell me but sometime I think like that. It must be they look at Island people … look at my colour. [Not one] of my case managers [has been] Māori or Island[er], it’s only Pakeha. I think if my case manager is an Island[er] I don’t know, different or not? But it’s only [been] Pakeha.
Sometimes it make[s] me [think] “oh I want to knock you out “… When they won’t help or something… They [could] help and explain something to help, but they don’t want to help. [They just] keep talking and say[ing] something I don’t want to listen [to]. … If she says “no help” why does she keep talking to me?
… It’s more helpful when I go with [my social worker]. [The case manager] change[s], like not ask[ing] too many questions. … I’m too scared when I go by myself. The questions. Sometimes when they keep asking questions I didn’t know [if] they have the right to ask that one or not. … I always ask [my social worker] if she wanna come with me ‘cause when I go by myself I [don’t] know [if] the questions are the right questions they have to ask or not. [It’s] good when I go with [my social worker because] she knows what question they can ask or [what] question they can’t ask.