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Since long before he began his construction training, Salesi Vi dreamed of owning his own home. But for many years, this seemed out of reach for him and his family. After beginning his trades training and attending a money workshop through MPTT, the father of two and his wife were able to move into their first home just before Christmas.

Salesi Vi had been working in a factory for eight years, but the life he really wanted remained out of reach. 

After getting married, he and his wife Sandalyn, who worked at the airport at the time, hoped to buy a family home. But their incomes and the savings they’d pulled together just weren’t enough.

“We looked at our finances – not quite enough to buy a house,” he says. 

“We knew we’d have kids coming down the line; there’s a lot of spending there. So we set a goal to find a way to improve our income and be able to afford a house. So we decided to go back to school.”

Salesi, now 37, began training as a carpenter with help from an MPTT scholarship, while Sandalyn also changed careers to work in the dental industry. 

“We were looking at our financials and asking: ‘Are we going to be able to afford to pay the mortgage?’ That’s why we went back to school, to get qualifications and get paid more than what we used to.”

Money talks

During his pre-trades training at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 2017, Salesi attended a financial capability workshop. This was delivered by Issac Liava’a, a financial mentor who is also MPTT’s Mana Whakahaere Pasifika (Ambassador).

Issac spoke to Salesi and the other trainees about how to manage their money well, in order to be financially stable now and in the future – advice which Salesi applied to help his family save a bigger house deposit.

“One thing we knew was we needed to make sure we didn’t have debt,” says Salesi, who admits it wasn’t always easy to limit his spending. 

“There was a time when I dropped a hint to my wife to say, ‘Hey, I think it’s time for me to get a new car’. But my wife told me that if your car takes you from A to B, that’s good enough. And obviously I’m still driving – there’s nothing wrong with the car. But I thought I needed a new car at that time.”

Opening the door

In 2020, Salesi and Sandalyn celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary, which seemed like a good time to buy their first home. They set the goal to own their home within that year.

At around the same time, Issac spoke to Salesi about his future plans and saw an opportunity to help him with home ownership.

Issac had been working for the New Zealand Housing Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that helps lower-income renting households become homeowners. He told Salesi about the Housing Foundation’s development in Mangere, thinking the family would be good candidates for what’s called ‘shared ownership’. 

This is where Salesi and Sandalyn would buy a majority of the property, with the rest of the house temporarily owned by the Housing Foundation – making it much more affordable than if they were to buy 100% of the home straight away. Over time, the family could then buy the Housing Foundation’s share of the home.

How to find work experience

The couple decided to buy the home, and with support from Issac, they moved in a few days before Christmas 2020. 

Salesi (left) was welcomed to his new home with flowers from MPTT, which were handed over by Issac Liava’a, MPTT Mana Whakahaere Pasifika.

“Issac really worked hard to make it happen in that time,” says Salesi. “The kids were very happy – and we were all happy to be in our new home before Christmas.”

By purchasing their home through Housing Foundation’s shared ownership programme, Salesi and his family were able to move into a brand new, three-bedroom home without the need for a large deposit (a minimum of a $10,000 deposit was required – much lower than the usual 20% deposit that’s needed, which in Auckland could be more than $100,000). 

Salesi had previously been considering buying a two-bedroom home. But through the Housing Foundation programme, they were able to purchase a three-bedroom home for less than the valuation price, allowing his two children to have a room each. 

As part of the process, Salesi received support from mortgage managers and solicitors, and will have ongoing support to guide him and his wife through the process of buying the rest of the home from Housing Foundation when they’re ready to. This makes the property more affordable and means they can enjoy living in their home right now.

Could you qualify for help from the New Zealand Housing Foundation? Find out more on their website or get in touch with Issac Liava’a (issac@fcandeconsult.co.nz) to talk about your options.

Salesi’s decision to retrain in the trades has improved his earning potential and helped him and his wife to buy their own home in Auckland.

Want to be better with money? Even if you haven’t been a great saver in the past, money management is a skill you can learn. Find out more about how to make your money last, and get tips to help you make good choices with money. If you’d like to hear about upcoming money workshops through MPTT, get your name on the list by emailing issac@fcandeconsult.co.nz with the subject line ‘Money workshop’.

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