A programme designed and delivered by rangatahi is helping young people in Porirua who have experienced challenges including intergenerational and current trauma, poverty, mental health problems and whānau breakdowns.
Called ‘Ko Au’ the programme was created by Te Roopu Tiakai Rangatahi – a leadership group developed by rangatahi with the support of four local community groups (Maraeroa Marae Health Clinic, Taeaomanino Trust, Tumai Hauora ki Porirua, and Wesley Community Action). The kaupapa for the group is to grow wellbeing and resilience among young people. They have called the journey they are on, and their group, ‘The Voyage’.
The Ko Au programme consists of facilitated workshops that support local youth to take control of their own narratives through stories they’ve seen or heard about their tupuna, ancestors, parents, whānau, teachers and peers.
The programme encourages inclusiveness, leadership, teamwork and using the participants’ strengths to support them to learn, grow and heal. The workshops are followed up with the participants to help them reflect and unpack what is happening in their lives, to create a sense of belonging and connectedness to others. Voyage members support Ko Au participants to leave the workshops with a different and more positive perspective of themselves, those around them and those who have gone before them.
The Ko Au programme is now in action in a number of places in Porirua including high schools.
“As a revolving model of co-designed ‘collaborative planning, delivery and reflective debrief’ that evolves with every workshop, it is run “By Rangatahi, For Rangatahi, With Rangatahi”. We have created an actively engaged network of safety for our young people to fall back on.”
“We see the change in their personalities and the way they carry themselves during this programme”. (Member of Voyage leadership team)
This story was brought to the Child Poverty Monitor by Inspiring Communities - a virtual organisation that promotes community-led development through providing resources, training, and consulting to community groups. It endorses Community-led Development (CLD) principles, such as growing collaborative local leadership and learning by doing, as well as an ongoing adaptive cycle of regular planning, action, reflection, and learning. They promote these principles through the Child Rich Communities framework across Aotearoa.
Read a report on Te Roopu Tiakai Rangatahi (TRTR), Voyage, and their many initiatives here
Watch a clip from a Voyage member about Ko Au here.
Read about Inspiring Communities here.
This story is used with permission, from the July 2022 Monthly Pānui of Kore Hiakai and Healthy Families Far North. Other stories from Kore Hiakai can be found among their ‘Catalyst & Champion stories.’
Mā mua ka kite a muri, mā muri ka ora a mua.
Those who lead give sight to those who follow,
those who follow give life to those who lead.
There is more than one way to cook a potato – and there is more than one way to create a food resilient community.
With the hurt of rising food prices and growing need for those requiring food assistance, impacting on overall community wellness, there are many champions throughout Aotearoa looking for innovative ways to strengthen their rohe.
One approach taken by Healthy Families Far North Lead Systems Innovator and former chef, Paul Condron, is to minimize reliance on supermarkets by guiding others on how to grow their own kai.
Through listening and working with whānau, Paul discovered that knowing how to grow fresh kai has become a thing of the past, and healthy kai is seen as “posh”. Paul, also known as Paora in the Far North, wants to make good kai available to all and to revitalise knowledge by teaching tamariki through play.
Through multiple workshops with whānau, and many trials, the kaupapa has taken shape in the form of a ‘Sowing Machine' - a vending machine for growing seedlings.
This sowing machine makes growing fresh kai a simple and fun activity, while also embedding healthy practices into the spaces where tamariki already interact and play.
Stocked with seasonal seeds, potting mix, and recycled paper cups, tamariki use the recycled cups to plant the seeds, which they can take home to their māra kai or keep in the whare kākāriki (green house) until they are ready to plant in the local community māra.
Tamariki are developing their kaitiaki of te Taiao (environmental protection) skills, so local whānau can stop in and pick up some fruit and vegetables at their local community park.
Paul said it's about making healthy kai available for all. Playgrounds are a place of learning, so why not utilize that space to teach our tamariki how to grow healthy kai, while also making healthy kai more available for the community?
“The tamariki love it and the best part is they don't feel like they're in a classroom… they’re just getting their hands dirty and having fun!” (Paul Condron, Healthy Families Far North)
Uptempo – Pasifika-led systemic change
Uptempo is an initiative focused on creating transformative change for Pasifika in Aotearoa. Uptempo’s focus is to provide learnings and insights into how Pasifika-led, workforce innovations can create the solutions needed for Pasifika people to grow and thrive. To deliver these outcomes, they work within The Southern Initiative (TSI), and alongside ‘aiga, The Fono, Oceania Career Academy and First Union.
Uptempo is supported by the Peter McKenzie Project which funds systems-changing community organisations tackling the root causes of child and whānau poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Leader Anna-Jane Edwards says statistics have shown a $1.8b gap between Pasifika incomes and the rest of Auckland – that equates to about $270 per household per week.
The recent findings of MSD’s Child Poverty in NZ report, as well as evidence in this Child Poverty Monitor show that for many households, full-time paid employment on its own doesn’t provide enough income to meet even the most basic needs of a household - especially where there are children.
Anna-Jane says the problem needs a systemic approach – that working family by family will not reach the scale needed.
Uptempo achieves this by working with government, social agencies and employers to create sustainable, intergenerational wealth for Pasifika. They work with ‘aiga to develop their skills, grow their networks, and access holistic support to meet their needs and aspirations, so Pasifika are leading their own futures.
They also work with employers to help them become more culturally responsive workplaces that respect, uphold and nurture Pasifika values.
At the same time, they work across communities to strengthen connections, celebrate Pasifika values, build partnerships and promote positive Pasifika stories.
Their work helps Pasifika to pursue learning, training and employment opportunities that will help them reach their family goals.
All of the learning from working alongside 'aiga, training providers, employers and community, are packaged and shared with government to create scale by informing policy, commissioning, and designing future activities in Pasifika communities.
The experiences reported by Pasifika families working with Uptempo shows it is working.
We heard about one family who immigrated just as Covid hit and were struggling to cope. Through working with Uptempo both parents have taken up training and work opportunities, the children are at school, and they are all engaging with their community. The mum says: “We just needed a little support and direction, the rest we can do for ourselves.”
Another family were juggling the responsibilities of fulltime work and five children. Through their involvement in Uptempo they became more connected to their community, introducing more families to the group and helping them connect to new opportunities. The process has also led the family themselves to learning opportunities and better leadership skills which has helped them into higher paid jobs that will enable them and their children to live lives of dignity and thrive across multiple generations.
A third family of a sole parent and six children were living on one low wage, while the parent was also trying to up-skill to improve the whole family’s prospects. Uptempo helped her get all the government support she was entitled to, and also helped her connect to the community for support. She has now moved into full time work in education and is helping other Pasifika families improve their prospects.
Below are some quotes from Pasifika children who told Uptempo about changes they have already noticed, and that these changes will mean some of their dreams for themselves and their families can come true:
“My mum and dad going to training they know about internet. They are happy all the time.”
“My mum and dad would buy our own house and my mum would do some shopping on clothes.”
“Enjoy having dinner with my whole family.”
“Buy the car and get a house.”
(Children in ‘aiga involved with Uptempo)
There’s a saying “doing good does you good” – and the young people of Auckland Vinnies, are proving the truth of that saying, with their work to support those doing it tough in their local community.
St Vinnies, which is formally known as the Society of St Vincent de Paul, is a Catholic faith-based, international organisation. The Vinnies Hub in Onehunga houses the Vinnies Auckland youth team that run school programmes across Auckland. It also houses a large foodhub and advocacy centre that supports families across Auckland.
Young people have always been involved in the Vinnies hub, but challenges presented by COVID meant they felt they really had to step up.
During the first lock down in 2020 the Vinnies hub made the decision to keep the doors open, and recruit family ‘bubbles’ to do all the processing and packing of food parcels. They called on their community – and the community responded, mainly in the form of young people.
As one young Pasefika woman explained “We figured we were all healthy, and Mum and my sister couldn’t work in lockdown, and I was a student – so we just had to. Other families couldn’t because they had immunocompromised people living with them.”
This young woman had already been volunteering at the foodbank - so knew all the systems there and was able to support her mother and three older siblings to put their values and their faith into action to become part of the solution.
Having weathered the first lockdown the new and improved Vinnies hub was well set up to deal with the extended Auckland lockdown in 2021, increasing their distribution of food parcels from about 70 a week to reach 1800 referrals for food per week. In the process this provided the young people helping out with an opportunity to build their own mana, by witnessing the need and then working to help others who were doing it tough in their community.
For one young man, starting as a driver meant he saw firsthand the hardship people faced in run-down, often crowded, homes. The experience opened his eyes to others’ situations and he recognised they really needed the support. He became part of the Vinnies youth programme which visits schools to raise awareness of key aspects of poverty: social exclusion, food insecurity and homelessness.
Under the school programme students collect non-perisable foods for the food bank, visit the food banks and do cooking after school.
As one Year 13 student said he’d learned that food insecurity is a multi-faceted problem which “comes in different shapes and sizes, you don’t know who is affected. People are too shy to talk about their struggles. We need to accept everyone as they are with open arms and treat everyone with respect.”
The combination of education and volunteering – heads, hearts and hands – is what changes the lives of young people and the communities they support. The education provided by Vinnies along with the real world experience means students “understand the deeper meaning of poverty and how it impacts people in our communities. Teaching rangatahi helps them teach others around them. We have a lot of Māori and Pacific peoples around here, and our backgrounds have oral traditions. Word of mouth is a big way of teaching others empathy”. (year 12 female student, Vinnies School leader and volunteer).
There is also a skills development aspect – the young people learn leadership skills, develop strong relationships in their communities and “establish a ‘giving’ habit.” (year 13 male student, Vinnies youth leader). It is “stressful but powerful. I had a sense of myself being moulded through being exposed to people in need. It shifts your perspective in life going forward. I can understand the mana and dignity that other people hold.” (Female graduate, Vinnies School leader and volunteer).
“I have a busy life with study but this is an investment in myself and leaving a legacy - you’re changing the world where it’s needed.” (Male university student, Vinnies Tuakana leader)