L I Z   B E D D O E

33 Liz Beddoe   33 Kete

The idea of a career in social work had not entered my mind when I finished my sociology degree in my early twenties. I was keen to find a social research job. I was interviewed for a junior research role in a private research company. The owner said my results from their employment questionnaire meant I was too much a soft leftie and would not be of use to his business. Instead I should try social work. A seed was sown. The next job I applied for was to be a social worker in an older adults’ inpatient service. I had worked in a rest home while studying and enjoyed working with our elders. I got the job and loved it. I went on to complete my MA in social work and worked in health social work for 14 years. At one point there was a fork in the road and I could have gone on into a management career. But my desire to pursue research had not diminished. I joined academia in 1995 and have never left.

A kete is a “… basket of knowledge of aroha [love], peace and the arts and crafts which benefit the Earth and all living things … This basket relates to knowledge acquired through careful observation of the environment. It is also the basket of ritual, of literature, philosophy and is sometimes regarded as the basket of the humanities”.[i] A kete is a woven bag made of flax.


I have chosen a kete because …

… for me it symbolises the receptacle for the knowledge, skills and values that are essential for social work. Each social worker needs a kete to carry around on their daily work with people. From their kete they can draw skills and knowledge of resources but they can also seek what they need to restore and replenish their most important tool: they can dip into their kete and ask ‘who am I’, ‘what do I need to do this job well’, ‘who are my allies in this journey for social justice and how can I support them’? The kete provides constant refreshment.

[i]  Te Aka Online Māori Dictionary, Pearson.

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