It was her fourth school in two years.
The fourth time entering a new classroom, catching up to her peers, making new friends, and she'd had enough.
Tears poured down the primary school pupil's cheeks as she clung tightly to her mother, pleading with her not to make her go.
Her family had been living in a social housing unit until 2018 when her mother, Angel Kaur, a solo mum with six children and a nephew in her care, decided to move because the neighbourhood had become too unsafe.
But that move threw them back into the insecurity of the social housing waiting list - along with thousands of others.
Over the past three years they have been shunted across Auckland - ranked one of the world's most prosperous and liveable cities - through emergency accommodation, rentals and now transitional housing.
Each move added another layer of anxiety and fear - particularly for the children, unsettling what are some of the most important years in any child's life.
On that day outside the school gates Angel was conflicted.
She knew her daughter was hurting, starting afresh in yet another school, behind in her school work, her social life.
But education was important. On this occasion she forced her daughter into the classroom, but it didn't last long.
Angel, 31, now home schools this daughter and another, along with her nephew, largely due to the unsettling nature of shifting schools.
"It made me feel like crap, forcing her to go to school. Because I knew I couldn't do it either. I would struggle."
Experts warn as the country's housing crisis deepens and families are forced to move regularly there could be devastating consequences for children and further entrenched inequality.
Angel wanted to share her story, not for sympathy, but because she worried about her children's futures.
"This is for my children. I could live anywhere, but it is my children who need a stable home, go to a stable school, make friends they can keep, to become young thriving adults."
Huge growth in demand and need
Angel's family were one of the 22,521 applicants on the social housing waiting list as of December last year, from a low of 3399 in September 2015.
The majority on the register are Māori - 11,171, with 5188 Pākehā and 2876 Pasifika.
They are also one of nearly 10,000 households with children seeking social housing - an increase of nearly 600 per cent since 2016, with more than 4000 of those in emergency temporary accommodation such as motels.
The majority - 7217 - are solo parents.
The family are in the Ministry of Social Development's highest priority category to find a home - A20 - but they have been so for nearly six months now, and with a huge shortage of housing there is no indication of them finding a permanent home any time soon.
Data released to the Herald under the Official Information Act showed while there has been a huge increase in social housing demand overall, the greatest increase has been from those in the highest priority categories.
MSD housing manager Kaye Cunningham said to fully understand a person's housing needs, they used the Social Allocation System (SAS).
To qualify for public housing, a client must be assessed as having a housing need priority rating of "at risk" (priority A) or "serious" (priority B).
The assessment covers five criteria - adequacy, suitability, affordability, accessibility and sustainability - with a rating up to four within each.
In June 2018 there were just three households classed as A20 - by December last year there were 168.
In December 2015 there were 810 applicants classed as A13 or higher, out of 4617 total applicants - including the waitlist and those in transitional housing.
By December 2020, this had risen to 19,185 applicants classed as A13 or higher, out of 26,748 in total.
So while the total waitlist over that time had risen just over 600 per cent, those with some of the highest needs had risen by over 2300 per cent.
Experts say the main drivers of this exponential growth have been New Zealand's severe housing shortage - including social housing, wages not keeping up with rent and living cost increases, and recently all exacerbated by Covid-19 and associated job losses and cuts.
Auckland Action Against Poverty's Brooke Stanley Pao said they'd seen a sharp increase in need since Covid-19, and it had not died down.
But many of the people who came to see them had been in precarious situations for years, Pao said.
"That is really normal, people in emergency and transitional housing and on the register for years.
"There are just no alternatives for people on benefits or low incomes in New Zealand.
"Living costs are so high and even what might like seem like small increases in costs can tip people into poverty.
"Housing is a human right and it needs to be treated by the Government like that."
Lynette Hutson, national director with the Salvation Army which manages Angel's transitional housing, said they'd also noticed a huge increase in severity of need.
Four years ago they had 169 transitional housing places, now they have over 500.
For some people their housing crisis could be very quick - such as a redundancy meaning they can't pay rent.
Others had entrenched difficulties over longer periods of time.
There were wider impacts, with families often forgoing doctor appointments, food and bills, to enable them to continue paying rent.
"All those things can have collateral damage, not taking into account the mental health issues like depression and anxiety that come with it."
The greatest impacts though were on the children.
"Their lives are filled with uncertainty and insecurity and that can be traumatising for them, things like not knowing where dinner is going to come from, maybe their mother is crying in distress or if can go to same school.
"It is sucking in a whole generation of children."
The Salvation Army - as with MSD and other providers - offered wraparound services for their clients, including home support through to budgeting assistance.
There were success stories, Hutson said, but many were still falling through the cracks.
Nearly three years waiting for a home
While Angel's family had been on the waiting list for about three years, they had not always been classed as A20. Initially they were A15, then A18, then from December A20.
There is no minimum time a family can spend on the waiting list, and they can be bumped up and down the categories depending on their circumstances.
MSD housing general manager Karen Hocking said over that time there had also been difficulties finding Angel's family a five-bedroom house in a suitable location.
But Angel says she still cannot understand why it has taken nearly three years to find a permanent home, especially given the impacts their situation is having on the children - aged from 15 to a few months.
They have been in their four-bedroom transitional home for almost a year now. The house is great, Angel says, but knowing they could be moving any time is unsettling for them all.
She turned down one home offer, but it was to move back into a previous area where there were safety concerns.
Applications can also be affected by simple administration errors. Angel said she was told recently their application could be taking longer because they needed a place that was dog-friendly. Angel said they've never owned a dog.
A MSD spokesman confirmed two puppies had been on their application, but this had been amended. They also said having pets was unlikely to affect a housing placement.
Angel said they could try the private market, but that was far less stable than social housing.
"Moving around puts them behind at school, they struggle to make friends," Angel said.
"It affects them mentally and emotionally and they just don't want to go."
Life hasn't been overly kind to Angel. She was born and raised in Auckland, with half Niue and half Trinidad and Tobago heritage.
She lost her father when she was a teenager, and her mother - who'd been helping raise the children - a few years ago to cancer.
Angel and her partner at the time had their first child when she was 15.
They raised another three children together over the next nine years, but it was an unhealthy relationship - so too with the father of her youngest two.
She'd hoped the fathers would have been better, that they'd be the ones supporting her and the children, not the state.
"If I had my way, they'd be here, looking after the children, paying the benefit in full, but it didn't work out like that.
"Nobody ever wanted to be a solo mother looking after seven children, but life is what it is.
"You have just got to take the positive out of it, and I have my beautiful children.
"I am grateful for society, which enables things like benefits and social housing, I value every cent and it is used as it is supposed to be.
"One day I will be working and continuing as well. But for now my priority is my children."
'Tragedy of the future'
Experts say New Zealand's housing crisis risks being a "tragedy of the future", with precarious living conditions affecting the social and educational development of our children.
Finlayson Park School principal Shirley Maihi said these situations were becoming alarmingly common.
"We have many families in that category. More often it is not just one move but several, and it might be out to East Auckland, then West Auckland, and they simply can't get to school here in Manurewa.
"Sometimes they might leave for days, weeks, months. Other times we just won't see them again."
Maihi, who has worked more than 50 years in education, said she had never seen the situation this bad.
"More and more families are being affected by the lack of housing and there is no doubt it is having an impact on our children.
"It makes it difficult to get the continuity of learning when they miss big chunks. When they do come back they are so removed it can be really difficult to catch up.
"Socially too friends may have moved on, and it can take a while for them to be reaccepted.
"I do worry about the future, because in many cases they simply do not catch up and it is very difficult for teachers too to find out where they are at and give them the help they need.
"There is no simple answer, but the children need to be given a clear path in their learning, and maybe a little more thought needs to go into where families are placed."
University of Otago research in 2019 found moving house was linked with increases in emotional and behavioural difficulties in four-year-olds, with the problems compounding each time a family moved.
More recent research from the university found those in higher deprivation areas were more likely to move more often than lower deprivation areas, with Māori and Pasifika disproportionately affected.
"Every additional residential move was related to an increase in difficulties, including problems with hyperactivity and inattention, and the ability of preschoolers to form relationships with other children," the study found.
The researchers suggested policy interventions that promoted stability, particularly in Māori and Pasifika families, should be considered.
University of Otago associate professor Nevil Pierse, who was involved in the research, said social housing, such as that run by Kāinga Ora, was among the most stable living environments - more so than the private rental market.
However by nature, the opposite was true for those on the social housing waiting list.
"We have a real problem in emergency and transitional housing, and it is vital we solve this situation.
"Each move affects things like anxiety, grades, reading levels, social development and can later on lead to things like playing up more often, and truancy."
The housing crisis also risked further entrenching socioeconomic inequality, with these early impacts having consequences down the track.
"It is a tragedy for the future - we have to do better for our kids."
MSD supported people with immediate housing concerns, such as finding emergency accommodation, usually motels, experiencing or facing homelessness, while longer-term options were sought by Kāinga Ora.
MSD's Karen Hocking said while motels were not a permanent solution or ideal for families with children, it was "extremely important to us that people are not left to sleep rough or in cars".
Families with children were supported to help them stay connected to their community, health services and other necessary agencies, she said.
A Kāinga Ora spokeswoman said they were "very concerned" about how the housing crisis was affecting children, and worked to build as much stability possible for households when matching applicants with homes, including considering any schooling needs.
New home "like winning Lotto"
Angel spends her spare time - of which there is very little - helping others.
She runs a social media group informing other people living in difficult situations of support available and advocating on their behalf to public agencies.
"I think that's what I was born to do, help people."
If things had turned out differently Angel thinks she would have been a lawyer.
She's studying business remotely, currently.
Her goal, once they find a stable home, is to start a small business, something to do with cooking and food.
Once the children are older she'll begin her legal studies.
"Just because I have seven kids and I am on a benefit now does not mean that will be me forever. Just because I am in this situation, does not mean I cannot be who I want to be."
Finding a new home would "be like Lotto", Angel said.
"Then the whole struggle will have been worth it."