Kiri's Quarterly Update - April 2024

Rangatahi Action Hui, Feb 24

Rangatahi Action Hui, Feb 24

After the January break, we welcomed Siobhan Henderson as our new Kaimahi Rangatahi to the team. Last year, significant effort went into fundraising for Te Whai to hire a youth worker. Thanks to the Mangawhai Community Op Shop, the Tara Iti Spirit of Mangawhai Charity Golf Tournament, and our Golf fundraiser at the Mangawhai Golf Club, Siobhan is now working with 6 young people and their whanau in the Mangawhai area.

This year, with a focus on youth, we are excited to provide a space for rangatahi on Wednesday afternoons from 3 - 5 pm. Beginning with a Song Conversations workshop funded by Creative Northland, the Youth Music Collective will offer a fun space to explore different instruments, jam with peers, and engage with mentors who are passionate about music. Siobhan will continue these youth drop-in sessions under a broader initiative called the ‘Youth Collective’. These sessions will run throughout the year, fostering connections, building trust, and listening to the needs of youth. Through these sessions, we aim to co-design a Youth Festival and further develop the vision for Mangawhai youth.

This shift in focus requires us to broaden our 'image' from being primarily seen as a community house for tamariki and seniors to ensuring our youth feel a sense of belonging. We are currently collaborating with artist Shan Whittiker to co-design artworks with youth for the interior of the community house. Additionally, they will work on a mural for the new Toy Library cabin, adding their creative touch during Wednesday sessions at the Youth Collective.

Recognising the impact of social isolation on our youth, exacerbated by COVID-19, we acknowledge the need for more connection and support. While outdoor sports activities are available for youth in Mangawhai, providing a dedicated space where they can safely connect and actively participate in designing activities fosters trust and opens doors to creative and future endeavours. Statistics from Te Rourou One Aotearoa Foundation’s OHI Data Navigator Report highlight the need for increased social connections among Kaipara youth.

Social Connections - Youth:

  • Don’t have enough contact with family: 30%

  • Don’t have enough contact with friends: 21%

Our team has worked diligently over the past year to upgrade processes as well as health and safety. However, it's important to clarify that Te Whai is not a crisis service; all our staff work part-time. Nonetheless, we advocate for and refer many requests outside of our service, working closely with our wellbeing team to determine the next steps and guide individuals to the best available support.

We'd like to welcome new trustee members Misty Samson and Sarah Bray to the Te Whai board. We look forward to their expertise and experience to enhance the community trust in the future. Chairperson, Sue Poynter, emphasises the importance of community responsibility in looking after its vulnerable members. Despite misconceptions about Mangawhai's needs, it is clear that social services have been under-resourced for years, with the growing community amplifying the need for support.

To address the gaps in service provision in Mangawhai, particularly in areas such as family harm, substance abuse, and crisis intervention, we collaborate with social service organisations, schools, police, and crisis services through quarterly hui. Strengthening these relationships and facilitating community access to these resources are crucial for our community's wellbeing.

The latest figures from Mangawhai Beach School have the total current role at 628 and 103 with disability/medical conditions. Learning support coordinator Sharee Mckenzie says "MBS is not ranked as such that they have access to funding for additional support ie social workers or lunches, because schools are means-tested, however, this does not reflect the need." We are fortunate that Otamatea Community Services recognises the gaps in service and supports the school with counselling, as well as Te Whai Family Care Coordinator Susi King who supports young people and families with additional needs. Our ten-week programme Te Awatea continues to provide a space to develop wellbeing and resilience skills for our local people facing challenges or wanting connection. 

The recent establishment of Heartlands Rural Service in Mangawhai offers a centralised space for government and social services to address community needs including Work and Income, IRD, Family Court Navigators, budget advisors, employment advocates, CAB and more.

To expand services in Mangawhai, including establishing safe houses, senior activation, family harm and substance abuse support, our team are committed to building relationships with experienced practitioners and securing suitable spaces for these activities. With support from investors and funding agencies, we aim to establish a purpose-built centre. This might look like satellite offices throughout Mangawhai with specialised focuses to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable residents. We invite community members interested in contributing to these initiatives to engage in discussions with us on how we can best support Mangawhai.

Thank you to our dedicated staff, board members and volunteers over this last quarter. Recognising their invaluable contributions to meeting the diverse needs of our community, we acknowledge that these compassionate individuals also deserve the kindness and aroha they embody in their mahi.

― Kiri Eriwata, General Manager
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