Toya Woodgate

Although “stressed out” by the purchase, with support from Callum, her whānau and the Whai Rawa team, Toya was able to use her account balance as part of the settlement deposit on the Leeston property in July, 2016. After seven months of almost-continual house hunting, the paperwork and the relationship with the Whai Rawa contact centre was solid.

Toya Woodgate, 22, is an early childhood teacher. She is now also, against many odds, a home owner.

Through a combination of simple hard work, the help of Whai Rawa, and sheer good luck, she and partner Callum McKenzie have the kiwi dream wrapped up in a Leeston cottage.

When Whai Rawa was born 10 years ago, Toya’s mum was an employee at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and well placed to sign her entire whānau up. At 17, Toya began working casually for the iwi office herself and learned the value of the saving scheme up close while processing administration for the unit.

She graduated in 2015 from the Canterbury College of Education with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning; she now teaches at Hoon Hay Primary School. With two full-time incomes, Toya and Callum felt they could start looking at home ownership.

In December, 2015 the couple began looking around at viable first home options. They were astounded at the competitiveness of the real estate market and were quickly forced to look outside of Christchurch.

Five months later, the Selwyn district became their hunting ground and after several false starts, with frustration mounting, the pair resorted to TradeMe browsing. Within minutes, they found a house that ticked the boxes, arranged a viewing and put down an offer within five minutes of setting foot inside the door.

Although “stressed out” by the purchase, with support from Callum, her whānau and the Whai Rawa team, Toya was able to use her account balance as part of the settlement deposit on the Leeston property in July, 2016. After seven months of almost-continual house hunting, the paperwork and the relationship with the Whai Rawa contact centre was solid.

“I had had all my Whai Rawa withdrawal applications ready to go from December. The staff there really helped me calm down!

“I wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy a house without that extra amount there, and the bank probably wouldn’t have supported us as much financially either.

“It’s funny, we were talking the other night and it still seems like a dream,” Toya says, speaking down the phone from the comfort of her very own home.