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9 May 2023

WFF Newsletter April 2023

From the desk of Chloe Wright

Kia ora, Talofa, Kia Orana, Dear all,

This has been a tough year, we have seen resilience and love for our fellow humans shine through at our darkest point. The instinct for survival lies innate within us, we cannot live as an island, we need each other.

“Help thy brother’s boat across and lo, thine own has reached the shore”.  Confucius  

Hope and joy come in many forms for me, it is in the resurgence of the education that comes out of homes and through the organisations who support our readers, writers, musicians, and artists. It is the research that points the way to understanding what makes the individual thrive and weaves the fabric of cohesive communities. It is the huge raft of volunteers, the mentors, who walk alongside the lost, lonely, fragile humans who have lost, or never found, what it is to feel joy and pride in their own uniqueness. This army of people epitomise what kept me going through one of the challenging years:

“I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight that to somebody’s need made me blind.
But I never have yet, shed a tear of regret, for being a little too kind”. Author unknown   

My passion for literacy was born out of books in my childhood home, storytelling, a quest for answers to age old questions. My ‘why’ being answered as best as my parents could. And now it is more books, the stories of others, a quest to keep abreast of scientific knowledge, the philosophers search for meaning. A bright new age of enlightenment plus a seeping understanding of what brings happiness. You can find it all in books, in the lived experience.

Just read; just breathe 

Daneille will tell you of Kids Lit, NZ Finals and World Finals being held in NZ Aotearoa. NZ Spelling Bee Aotearoa has quadrupled since we had the privilege of supporting this. The Warriors reading initiative. David Riley’s stories from young authors as told to them by their elders. And so much more.

As for research, we have been incredibly fortunate in these last few years in being able to walk alongside the research that comes off the back of the world renown Dunedin Longitudinal study. A 50-year milestone was recently celebrated with a dinner honouring Professor Richie Poulton who has led the study for the last 30 years, the dinner hosted by the Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro. As guests, Wayne and I felt the impact this can have on our young, midlife, and older generations in the context of lifestyles of New Zealanders. This study is something we, who call New Zealand, Aotearoa home, can be exceptionally proud of. Fifty years of a cohort studied from birth across all layers of their lives, universally recognised. Each month we will bring you snippets of research we have gathered that will rock you.🎸

The understanding of social issues that has come out of this ground-breaking study has created a pathway to social cohesion, a return to ‘The Village’.

Our small team have been working very hard in preparation for the launch of The Village (kainga, गाँव, nuu, ගමේ kolo… etc) as many languages and world views as there are. Our goal is to share a growing chest of knowledge for Mamas, Fathers, whanau through a grass roots movement backed by solid research and connected to the best services in the land. We can address social isolation and help build strong resilient individuals and communities. Our focus is on creating genuine intergenerational relationships in a way that is fun, positive, supportive and well informed. And it is free to you. Watch this space 😊

“Some people think they are in a community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other”. – David Spangle


Chloe and the team 


EXCITING NEWS!! THE VILLAGE is launching soon 

We are in the final stages of readying The Village for its launch in May. Our small team is a hive of activity establishing a platform with a solid foundation for the community to engage and grow.

Expectant parents are our initial focus with further communities represented as The Village increases in size and level of engagement.

We have pioneers giving feedback on what they would like to see in The Village as it is all about building connections and a sense of belonging within the community and who better to lead the way, than the people of New Zealand.

"A fun, creative and empowering space for parents and whānau to thrive!"

Our goal is to create a central space that is supportive, educational, and restorative for women and whānau. We believe that by building this community, we can help parents and caregivers navigate the challenges of raising children and foster a sense of support and connection that is essential to their overall wellbeing.  

Join our Community and Help Shape the Future of Parenting - THE VILLAGE

Update from Ollie Wright, our Music and Arts Director

Kids' Lit Quiz heat held in the Waikato recently

Hey there!  As the Director of Music and Arts here at the Wright Family Foundation, I wanted to share with you some exciting developments that has happened over the last couple of months.

Firstly we're thrilled to be supporting the Tim Bray Theatre Company in Auckland. For the past 32 years, they have shown their commitment to creative learning and social outreach by inspiring children and young people of all backgrounds and abilities to be confident and creative through theatre. They offer youth drama classes and create original stage shows based on children's books, with their next upcoming live stage performance "The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton", adapted by Tim Bray will be at the Pumphouse Theatre from 24th June - 15th July.

We are also excited to be a part of Rockshop Bandquest. This live music event in its thirteenth year, is specifically designed for primary and intermediate school students, giving them the opportunity to showcase their musical talents and connect with other young musicians from around Aotearoa. With its focus on education, inspiration, and entertainment, Rockshop Bandquest is the perfect opportunity for the next generation of contemporary musicians to shine.🤘🤘

We're looking forward to seeing all the incredible talent that's out there!

You can find more information about the Tim Bray Theatre Company here and the Rockshop Bandquest here


Kids' Lit Quiz NZ

Kids' Lit Quiz heat held in the Waikato recentlyThe new season of literary quizzes for students started in March and there’s been increased participation by Aotearoa this year.

When asked about the increase Wayne Mills (quizmaster) suggested that there appears to be a greater awareness by schools of the importance of reading for pleasure. He’s expectant that the refreshed English curriculum will give more emphasis to reading for pleasure in schools (and similarly outside of school).

In reading for pleasure, the focus is on students selecting their own reading material with the positive outcomes being wider vocabularies and greater content knowledge. Other non-literary benefits such as increased empathy and overall well-being have also been reported in the most recent research.

The Kids’ Lit Quiz operates in overseas countries and teams from USA, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia will participate in the World Final, to be held this year and supported by the Wright Family Foundation. Students stay for free when in New Zealand and take part in reading and writing workshops conducted by NZ authors as well as visiting tourist spots in the local area.

The World Final is being held at Havelock North Intermediate on July 22nd and entry to this exciting event is free. Mills reckons that watching this event delights the audience especially when they see the formidable literary knowledge that these kids exhibit. Afterall, this event is known as ‘the sport of reading’.

You can find more information about the Kids' Lit Quiz and the upcoming heats here and on Facebook


Cansurvive NZ Dragon Boat Club Wellington

On a Sunday morning in April, we gathered a busload of supporters to watch the wonderful wahine of Cansurvive NZ row their hearts out at Lake Karapiro for the 2023 IPCBC Participatory Dragon Boat Festival.

To put in some context, this festival, held every 3-4 years, is a massive undertaking that involves a selection of teams from over 30 countries across all continents coming together in week-long celebrations culminating in three days of intense activity on the mighty lake. It is a sporting event that welcomes over 5000 people, with the participants being mainly women between the ages of 20 and 80, accompanied by their friends and families. And it is the first time it has been held in NZ since its inception in 2010.

Unfortunately on Sunday, the wind had other ideas with racing called off at noon. However, this did not dampen the buzzing atmosphere of all that were there, with rousing cheers echoing off the lake as teams had their photos taken followed by the emotionally stirring flower ceremony and farewell. It was truly a special sight to see these strong, resilient women joined together in solidarity and camaraderie.  ĀTAAHUA!

Pictured are members of the CanSurvive NZ Dragon boat team singing their inspiring chant for team photos.

Dragon boat paddling has become a rehabilitation therapy for tens of thousands of women and men worldwide who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

You'll find more information about the Cansurvive NZ Dragon Boat team here.



Learn to Sail Mangawhai Rotary

With sailing over for the season, it has been very quiet on the Mangawhai shoreline as the team starts repairs and maintenance of the boats in preparation for next season.

The decision has been made to extend the age out for the Opti's from 14-16 years of age with the focus on actively encouraging parents and adults to take part in our sailing programme next season in our bigger boats, given that a few actually took part last season and it was fantastic to see them involved. 

Learning to sail provides both children and adults with a variety of valuable life skills that extend beyond the water. It teaches the importance of teamwork, communication, and leadership as sailing can often require more than crew person to operate a boat successfully. Additionally, sailing needs a certain level of adaptability and decision-making, as sailors react to changing weather conditions and navigate through unfamiliar waters.

Finally, sailing provides a sense of independence and self-reliance, as sailors rely on their own knowledge and ability to navigate and control their boat. Overall, learning to sail can instill a variety of essential life skills that are applicable both on and off the water.

Keep up the fantastic work Mangawhai Rotary!

You can find more information about the Learning to Sail project on their Facebook page here.

League In Libraries - The Warriors Community Foundation

The Warriors Community Foundation has launched the League in Libraries program for 2023.

League in Libraries - Rīki i ngā Whare Pukapuka aims to reignite a passion for reading and writing, essential skills that are vital for success in life. Students are invited to submit stories about their favourite Warriors players for judging, with the best works from primary, intermediate, and kura kaupapa Māori schools selected for professional editing, illustration, and publication.

In addition to promoting literary achievement, League in Libraries also provides students with opportunities to interact with their idols. Nine winning classrooms get the chance to attend a library afternoon in their region, where players join them to participate in literary activities and hand out reading resources and league souvenirs.

With the hope of expanding their reach into the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Hawkes Bay, the positive results and widespread participation from schools underline the program's importance in the community, and the Wright Family Foundation is delighted to continue to offer our support in 2023.

You can find out more about League in Libraries and other initiatives by The Warriors Community Foundation here.

New Zealand Aotearoa Spelling Bee

After a disruptive few years caused by the pandemic and natural disasters, the Aotearoa New Zealand Spelling Bee is set to return in 2023 on an even grander scale with the competition kicking off in May.

For starters, the number of finalists will increase by 24, giving more students a chance to compete in the National Spelling Bee Final in Wellington. Additionally, the regional spelling bees will expand from six to eight, allowing more schools to participate.

And to show appreciation for the hard work of teachers, the number of Aotearoa New Zealand Spelling Bee Teacher Awards will double from four to eight.

The organisers are eager to welcome back participants, spectators, and supporters to this exciting showcase of spelling prowess. The return of the Spelling Bee promises to be an unforgettable occasion for all involved.

You can find more information about the New Zealand Aotearoa Spelling Bee here.


David Riley - Reading Warrior

One of Reading Warrior's visions is that our Oceania children will be able to see themselves reflected in literature both as readers and creators.

To support this vision David Riley has been leading a project called Fehili atu ki te Matua (Ask the Elders) - it involves working with four Tokelauan families to make bilingual children's books based on their grandparents' stories. E-versions and audio versions of the books were also made so families overseas could share in the stories as well. 
It is a project full of aroha because it is multi-generational: grandparents tell the stories, parents do the connecting, and the grandchildren write them. Family bonds are strengthened in the connecting and storytelling. Young people who are secure in who they are and in their families are more likely to be successful and creating books from their own elders' stories adds mana to them and honours grandparents in a special way. 
"Keep up the awesome work as a steward for our stories. I can't appreciate enough what you do to share these treasures and uplift our youth."
Matt Ineleo - Parent of one of the writers.
David is excited about doing more "Ask the Elders" projects and exploring how to animate the stories and share them in theatre performance as well. 
The Wright Family Foundation also supported the Kāinga Pukapuka program late last year. It is project gifting boxes of culturally specific books to families so they can add to or begin their own home library. Here is an excerpt from a thank you letter received from the Principal at Flat Bush Primary School, one of the schools who received the book gift boxes.

"We live in an environment that is becoming ever more influenced by technology and participation in digital spaces. The Kāinga Pukapuka packs ensure that there are tangible, hard copy books available in our learners’ homes and this cannot be underestimated.

The reality for our school and our community is that working in an online setting is not always possible for our students. We hope that we will be able to continue sharing these wonderful resources with our learners and their whānau for many years to come.

Our sincere appreciation goes to David Riley for his ongoing support and encouragement of Flat Bush School and to the Wright Family Foundation for their generous support of this work."

You can learn more about the awesome mahi David is doing here.

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family." - Kofi Annan