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'Born to make a difference' - Law student raised in state care rises up to heal generations of hurt

An inspiring young law student is rising against the odds and dedicating her life to healing generations of hurt.

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Journey Parata was taken into care at age eight and shuffled around seven homes. Source: 1 NEWS

Journey Parata is being recognised with the Prime Minister's Oranga Tamariki Award for her ambitions.

She was first taken into state care aged eight. Growing up, she was shuffled through seven homes.

Parata describes her earlier years as "very traumatic".

"Drugs, alcohol, violence, were the forefront of my life. As a result of that was sexual abuse, neglect, all of that stuff you hear," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast.

"I grew up being very embarrassed of people knowing I was in state care, but I hope this encourages people to lose that whakamā [shame] and speak out about their stories."

Parata's brother was also taken into state care at a young age. She describes him as being full of potential.

"But he was very stuck in his past where from a young age, he was already involved with gangs," Parata says.

He's currently in prison.

Things turned around for Parata at house three, with a British couple.

"[They] were the most loving people I had come across from my journey out of the system into the system. They really loved and nurtured me, which was so awesome for me."

It's the emotional support Parata thinks is key when it comes to children in state care. 

She says she doesn't agree with a lot of Oranga Tamariki's practices when it comes to uplifts.

"It's easy to take away a child but when we go to the root of it, we're talking about generations and generations of trauma and that's where it unfolds," she says.

"That's where we have to go, is to the root. Taking away surface level things isn't healing everything at the core."

Now Parata is studying law, crediting her ambitions to an "awesome" lawyer who represented her in the justice system during her life.

"I just think I've taken my life's challenges and I've used them to guide me," she says.

"I believe regardless of whether I take law or not, I was born to make a difference."