Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit manager Prue Smith, and Kia Manawanui Award winners Teina Kerehi, and Jade Reiri. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Wairarapa Teen Parent unit Kia Manawanui co-award winner Jade Reiri is aiming to complete a nursing degree.

It was an emotional day for some as the unit held it’s end of year prizegiving on Wednesday.

Teina Kerehi, and Jade Reiri were awarded the top Kia Manawanui Award for courage, compassion, and outstanding contribution to the teen parent unit.

Reiri joined the unit in July 2017 and hadn’t been there long before her son Bryson entered the world.

She now has NCEA level three and an early childhood certificate and plans to do a bridging course at UCOL before embarking on a joint nursing degree.

Reiri said her experience at the unit had been “extraordinary”.

“It means everything. It means I have the comfort of knowing he’s looked after and I can go to him quickly if needed.

“It’s like a sisterhood in here, we all take each other’s babies in here. Everyone’s an aunty.”

Fellow award winner Kerehi also joined the teen parent unit in 2017, and initially the staff had trouble convincing her that it was a good place to be.

Fast forward two years and Kerehi had the highest attendance of any student, gained NCEA level three, and spent time working in The Hubb health club and Lakeview School.

Along with raising son Hezekiah, Kerehi will move into the workforce next year to continue her job as a caregiver.

Six students graduated from the unit on Wednesday, with others setting their sights on becoming personal trainers, early childhood teachers, and gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree.