Mazz Adams is a go-to person for people in Merivale. But now she's the one who needs help.

Two weeks ago, the 36-year-old Merivale School casual worker and community centre board member had a breakdown after a fruitless search for a home for her and her family.

Ms Adams tried to admit herself to Tauranga's psychiatric ward.

"I couldn't see past my nose," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Mazz is that aunty in the community who puts people straight.


"[I] didn't know where to go next. I felt like I'd used up all my options everywhere. I had no capacity for anything."

Ms Adams came to Tauranga from the Waikato six years ago in search of a better life for her children. She wanted to escape an environment of gangs, drugs, alcohol and violence.

She has eight children and was a mother by the age of 17.

"Like heck I'd have that for my children," she said. "If they choose not to have kids, I'd support them in that."

Ms Adams is proud of her children and the "cotton wool" life she has built for them in Tauranga. Of the six at home, the eldest, a 19-year-old son, is studying while her 17-year-old daughter wants to become a psychologist.

Ms Adams marvels at the way they soak up knowledge and believes the example she has set in doing community work inspires her children.

She has also started a degree in social work, but the battle to find a house has become all-consuming and, for now, she has had to forgo that dream.

The rental the family has called home for the last five-and-a-half years is getting renovated and sold, and the July 21 deadline for them to leave is looming. The rent was pushed up $60 a week after the landlord said they could stay a few weeks longer than the 90-day notice period.

Ms Adams has searched unsuccessfully for another home since February, and now faces the prospect of having to return to whanau in Huntly.

It is either that or take up offers of temporary accommodation from friends in Tauranga but that would mean splitting her family, which includes a niece who lives with them. "No one has somewhere big enough for eight of us."

Ms Adams is on Housing New Zealand's waiting list. She is "on the case" of real estate agents daily, joking that she is going to become so annoying they will have to give her a house.

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While using humour to mask her struggles, her doctor has told her she is depressed. She is painfully thin, admitting the stress is stopping her from eating. Her youngest child, a 7-year-old boy who has attention deficit disorder and autism, is getting into trouble at school and she says all the children are struggling as they realise they could soon be without a roof over their heads.

But she said her children's future came first and she was not ready to give up the fight for her family to stay in Tauranga.

Merivale Community Centre general manager Tauha TeKani said Ms Adams was very community-focused.

"She is always on watch and looking out for the kids. She is always stopping people from getting into trouble or helping the kids to be safe.

"If kids in Merivale are in trouble they go to her house. They know they can get food there and she will look after them, even though sometimes they know they will get a telling off.

"Mazz is that aunty in the community who puts people straight."

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7).
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7).
• Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7).
• If it is an emergency and you or someone else is at risk, call 111.