Cherie Sweeney's fight for life

By Peata Melbourne

Cherie Sweeney fights for the rights of children. Now Cherie's fighting for her own life.

"I've had some real hidings in my life that have included massive serious head injuries so I'm not really surprised that I have something there now, " says Sweeney.

Cherie is known for her organisation NARK that she began after her neighbour, baby Serenity Jay Scott, was murdered in Ngāruawāhia in 2011. Today she continues advocating for children and families in need of support who've been marginalised and, in particular, children of gang members.

"I come from a gang whānau and maybe that's what makes me more acceptable to these rangatahi and tamariki and whānau groups who normally would close their doors to outsiders. Maybe that's what gets me in the gate that I have that."

Cherie makes no apology for her gang affiliations and grew up around the Mongrel Mob. She’s also been through the Child Youth Family (CYF) system and lived in 18 different foster homes throughout her childhood. But now Cherie is faced with a more personal challenge. In August last year, she collapsed and MRI scans of her brain reveal a potentially life-threatening situation.

"This a really serious problem in my life now, this is something that's possibly going to get the better of me."

For the full story watch Native Affairs tonight at 8pm on Māori Television.