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Vicki & Peter Sykes - New roles but same message

The old saying “when one door closes, another one opens” couldn’t be more apt for two of Māngere’s longest serving leaders, Peter and Vicki Sykes (pictured above).

So while Peter has stepped down after 28 years as ME Family Services Chief Executive - Vicki has just stepped up to become Monte Cecilia Housing Trust’s new CEO, which is based just behind the Māngere Town Centre.

The pair say their recent career changes have also meant a shift in who manages the household chores.

“We’ve reversed roles,” Vicki says. “I’ve been self-employed and working from home for the last seven years and so now Peter is picking up the home management stuff, like looking after grandchildren, as well as planting the local reserve with trees, trapping possums and all sorts of other interesting things.”

The couple first moved to Māngere in the early 1990s when they became co-vicars at Selwyn Anglican Church, Māngere East. In 1993, Peter founded Māngere East Family Service Centre and also had a long stint as Māngere East Hawks Rugby League club president, while Vicki became CEO of South Auckland social services hub, Friendship House, and has more recently been in governance roles for the Selwyn Foundation, Haumaru Housing, Public Trust, and The Cause Collective.

Vicki says her focus at Monte Cecilia will be on finding community solutions to New Zealand's ongoing housing crisis.

“We’re looking at how we can get alongside families so people have a place to call home and can put roots down in a community."

Peter says Covid has caused a huge upheaval for everyone in Māngere but in his new role as ME Family Services Board Chair he will be ensuring the community is focused on “reclaiming our village”. “Covid has given us an opportunity to re-vision what it means to be a community," he says.

As Vicki says, their roles might be different, but the mission hasn’t changed.

“We have to be as place-based as much as possible - so that means supporting local schools, local retailers and local sports clubs - and that’s always been our message.”

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