Wenbo Gong refuses to give up on his dream to become a cop.
He's found time - in just three months and despite working a 60-hour week as a builder - to improve his English skills to a level acceptable for possible entry to the police force.
He felt frustrated after being turned down by recruiters in November because of his poor literacy.
Now he is much closer to achieving his dream after asking for help from Literacy North Shore.
The non-profit organisation helps people improve their literacy and work prospects, but Gong couldn't attend daytime courses because of his job.
It was stroke of luck that his "angel" tutor, Susanne Furst, offered to help him at times that suited.
Gong works from 7am to 7pm on an average day, so Furst teaches him in the evenings and during weekends and holidays.
"Most nights he will show up at my house with something to eat, still in his work clothes and ready to learn.
"I don't mind doing it because he is so committed," Furst says.
Gong's passion for police work began shortly after he moved to New Zealand from China three years ago.
He was involved in a car accident and the police were the first on the scene.
"They were so kind to me and so helpful. I will never forget how good they were to me."
Gong is still working on his English skills but has progressed through to the formal interview stage of recruitment and joined the Asian Safety Patrol.
The patrol allows aspiring Asian recruits to work alongside frontline police twice a week.
Gong's patrol colleagues wanted in on the action after hearing about his success.
Literary North Shore manager Jane Rigby has designed a programme to help them and others in similar positions.
"We are now working with the police to help over 40 individuals who fulfil the fitness criteria but are hampered by poor literacy," Rigby says.
"With Auckland now home to over 100 different nationalities it is becoming important for the police to reflect the changing demographics," she says.
"I feel safer already, just knowing that these guys will become police officers someday," Furst says.
Phone 444 0420 for information on Literacy North Shore.
- North Shore Times