As Kaiārahi o te Kooti a Whānau – Family Court Navigator at Ministry of Justice, Geoffrey Simmonds works with people who are often at their most vulnerable. He connects them with community providers and helps them navigate the Family Court by providing information, guidance, and support.
What does service to the community mean to you?
Giving all you have to the people around you. It is what I do at work, and what I do in the weekends. Before working as a Kaiārahi, I was with the Ministry of Social Development, Manukau City Council and Auckland Transport. My wife and I are also heavily involved in sport; I am president of the Papakura Netball Centre, and often MC game day for the Northern Comets and Stars. I’m also an official with Counties touch and softball.
How does your work make a difference?
My role is unique. There can be social, financial, and cultural barriers that make navigating the Family Court hard. Our role was established to help people. We provide individuals and families with the right information so they can make decisions that work for them.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I’m proud of my ability to break down the stigma of the Family Court. I help whānau from all walks of life understand proceedings and connect them with the right support. The statement I hear time and time again is, “where were you when I was going through Family Court years ago?”.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Seeing the surprise and relief on someone’s face when I introduce myself as someone from the Ministry of Justice who is there to assist.
What are 3 words you would use to describe your work?
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the Public Service?
It is a big commitment, but you can make a real difference. You are the insider who can share information, make connections, and support those in want and in need. To be a good public servant is to put others before yourself and sometimes your family. However, your family, 9 times out of 10, are usually supportive because they too have the same values.