Felicite – General Manager (Former)

Felicite is the former General Manager of CRS. She began working for the agency as a Social Worker in 1996 and worked for the agency for twelve years.

When Felicite joined the team, CRS was only a two-person organisation. Felicite says the agency grew very quickly due to the demand from refugee and migrant background people, and by the time she left, there was a team of 25 staff members. Felicite says the agency led the way in resettlement, with there being no other organisation like it at the time. “We were one of the first formalised agencies for social work for refugees in New Zealand and how we did things was very different,” she says. CRS was the first agency in New Zealand to employ people who had resettled as bicultural workers, something that was extremely innovative in those days.

Felicite says a highlight for her was working with a dedicated, stable team of people. She also appreciated the agency gaining recognition and building up a reputation within the resettlement space in New Zealand. She also enjoyed getting to know the families they worked with and becoming a part of their extended whānau.

“Being able to contribute to people’s lives beyond the professional role was often really special,” she says.

She also appreciated being able to work with people from many different backgrounds.

Felicite also enjoyed seeing women who had come from strong patriarchal backgrounds flourish and become independent. “To see that strength in women was a real joy and a lesson,” she says.

Despite the agency’s success, it wasn’t always easy. Felicite says, “I look back to those days and the early days of resettlement of people from very different cultures, we a lot of the time didn’t know what we were doing. But we always worked with good intention on the premise of doing no harm and we had some real successes.”

Felicite can’t believe that CRS has reached its 30th Anniversary. “There were times when we didn’t think we were going to get to the end of next week. There have been lots of challenges but it’s the tenacity of the team that are there, that’s keeping it going. The quality of their work is well recognised and they’re a valued organisation, I wish them well, I hope they last another 30 years.”