About This Project

“In prison, coming off the drugs, you finally realise what you’ve done. You realise what you’ve lost and how long you’re going to be inside. I tried to jump on to anything to keep busy. I didn’t want to come back out and go back to that same shitty life; It was 20 years of nothing but misery.”

Six months into her prison sentence, Petra met Rebecca from RAW and liked what she had to offer.

“If you really want to change, RAW is the place to come. Other agencies didn’t have any ‘real’ interest in you.”

Petra arrived at RAW’s Hamilton home base in March 2019, but after only a month or so she had got herself into trouble.

“I was hanging out with the wrong people and went out drinking.”

The next morning Petra was asked to move out and ended up at the local backpackers for the weekend to work out where to next. While she was there, she received a phone call from Rebecca throwing her a lifeline.

The plan was to open up a new RAW property in Te Aroha (He Haumaru). There would be no phone, and no internet and Petra would need to commit to a three-month programme of focusing on herself and living a good life. Petra was very hesitant, but the options were the farm or Jail. No contest really, and so in May 2019 Petra moved to Te Aroha and has been there ever since.


“I’ve been working at my current job for a year now. I do wellbeing programmes at the farm, we have working bees around the property, and I go away for weekends.”
“I still find life quite difficult after experiencing 20 years of just one type of lifestyle. All the normal stuff, like how to be in a relationship, is a struggle for me. I’m so used to abusive relationships that it feels like that is how it should I be.”
“I never used to care and I now I do, but I still don’t know how to just be. I’ve never been on a date before. I didn’t really get to have a childhood, so just finding happiness or understanding what makes me happy is a struggle. Before it was just the drugs that made me happy but now, my kids make me happy.”

What do you love about your life today?

“I’m independent, I’ve got a job, and my family is proud of me. I love that I’m not on drugs, I love that I have the support of Linnet and RAW and that I’ve got a vehicle.”

Are they any aspects of your life that continue to frustrate you?

“I should be living a normal life with ease, but I’m not.”

How is life today different to life before RAW?

“Before, It was all about me, and all about drugs. Where’s the next bag coming from? Who am I going to sell the next bag to? I used to wake up at any time, and go to sleep at any time; it didn’t matter. Now, I get up to go to work, and I get up for wellbeing programmes.”

“Today, there is routine and structure, which is good. If I didn’t have any, it would be easy to veer off and do other things.”


Looking back, what things now amaze you about the life that you were living (the things you accepted as normal)?

“Staying up for five days and thinking you were fine. The things you would do when you were like that.”

“The hidings that I got and being amazed that I was still alive; but all the while thinking that was all I deserved. You get stuck there and you think that these people are the only ones that will love you.”

Reflecting back on when you first joined RAW, to where you stand today – what have been the key turning points in that journey?

“Just being given the chance to come to the farm was a huge wake-up call for me. I’m really grateful for being given a second chance at life; it was my last option to make a change in my life.”

What did you need to learn/unlearn?

“I’m still learning stuff today, relationship-wise. I still have heaps of my old unhealthy habits – like self-sabotage or abandonment issues. I’ve got to deal with that stuff before I can go forward.”

“Negative thinking – I need to put past behind me.”

What did you need to let into your life or let go of?

“I need to let people in. I need to let trust and love in. I keep people so far away, so I don’t get hurt, but by doing that, I don’t get the connection either.”

“I need to let go of mistrust and colouring everything based on my past experiences.”

Why do you think you have been successful in staying away from ‘the dark side’?

“I’ve got a stable environment, I’m working full-time, and I have the support of my family now. I’ve built up so much in the last couple of years; I don’t want to risk all the relationships I’ve built up.”

What’s the secret to you sustaining a good life (away from the dark side)?

“The motivation to live a different life and unwavering support.”


If you had to sum up in a sentence the role that RAW has played in your journey over the last year, what would you say?

“RAW wrapped right around me. I have stable housing, my own bedroom, wellness programmes, counselling, study support (tutors), walks up the mountain, cooking lessons – basically everything you need to live your best life.”

Have there been moments that RAW has been mission-critical to you making it through? If yes, describe some of those for me.

“When I come back from visiting my kids. I feel lost when I get back. Now I’m aware of that being a trigger, I get a counsellor session organised when I get back, and so I’m learning to manage it better. It just helps to reset you again.”

What are the things that RAW have helped you to find or build that you didn’t have before (or had lost sight of)?

“Linnet is our main support at the farm. She tries to build our confidence and self-worth by constantly telling us that we’re good enough. It’s a journey.”

What things have RAW made possible that you didn’t think would be possible?

“Getting a job. I started off working with Annah, and now I’ve got my certificate in animal care. RAW also made study possible for me.”


Thinking ahead, what are your goals and plans?

  • To study vet nursing.
  • To have my children back with me.
  • Work my way up the ladder at my job.
  • To have a house.


What is the thing that you know for sure about your future?

“I will have my kids, and I will be doing my best and living my best life.”

What is the thing that excites you most?/most looking forward to?

“The unknown – it’s all new, scary and exciting!”

Where are the areas that RAW can most add value to in your journey ahead?

“Keep walking beside me. I will need RAW here or in my own house for a long time to come.”