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1 August 2021

WFF Newsletter August 2021

WFF Newsletter August 2021

From the desk of Chloe Wright

Kia ora, Talofa, Kia orana, Greetings to all,

I have had ample reason, particularly of late, to ponder why is it that some follow like sheep the dictates of others, while others stand for their own personal ethics, moral code, conscience. Is it fear, peer pressure, or being cast out that keeps people prisoners, their voices silenced? We may talk of Emotional IQ or self-worth, but finally, we must pare it back to the experiences of our beginning, what fed our dreams, aspirations, and belief in self. Parents are the first teachers.  

In these last few days two strong, gentle, women shared with me their experience. One, responsible for many women who have lost their way and are on the road to rehabilitation and hope in the future, the other, witnessed a society that remained silent, turned their gaze from injustices. A society that became blind and without a voice. Both became warrior women for people’s right to be heard, to thrive, and to find success. They, like me, have never been a slave to popularity. Their conscience is their guide.

         “The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people”. –Unknown

As a ‘relentless optimist’ I have pondered more deeply, (never let the naysayers hinder your progress) why we partner with/support the organisations we do. What is the common denominator?

It is people. Those ones who stand up and say, ‘something needs to be done’ and bravely head off in a direction that will mean struggle, rejection, ploughing in their own resources, and a host of other roadblocks that are part of the humanitarian’s world. 

I am in awe of the reach a few dedicated souls can have. Teenager, E Wen, has again organised a great gathering of youth to focus on educating others to clean up our beaches. Steve, Riley, and Jo Hathaway who swim with powerful creatures who have very big teeth joined them. These Young Ocean Explorers take this environmental knowledge to the schools of our nation. Kiwibots, run by Janet Van, one of the brightest young women I have ever had the privilege to connect with, is growing the science of robotics throughout the country. These Kiwibot Rangatahi are set to rock the world. Chris Duggan, who we partnered with, has grown the House of Science, quitting her job as a science teacher and hanging on by her fingernails until we now have the science boxes in many schools. She is changing the face of science. Then of course there is the irrepressible Siouxsie Wiles. What a privilege to have Siouxsie as Ambassador to the House of Science. 

We are in the regional finals of the New Zealand Spelling Bee. Again, led by a woman, Janet Lucas, who 15 years ago saw a decline in student’s ability to spell. (Don’t start saying you don’t have to spell anymore!) Words and the ability to use them are one of the richest contributors to our environment as civilized beings. Vulgar language is the resort of ignorant people. The Kids Lit National Final takes place in September. Wayne Mills and his wife Pa, out of a passion for reading, have grown this throughout a growing number of countries. Hampered for the time being by Covid, but Covid did bring about a renaissance in reading and we must celebrate that. If you can read, you can write, if you can write, you can change the world. 

SuperGrans continues to grow its reach into the burgeoning communities of those ‘left behind' in the struggle to survive. Connecting the generations, giving a hand up, this army of volunteers receives the ultimate joy of knowing they make a difference to the families they mentor.

Last to be mentioned, but not last at all, are the community of Mangawhai who have taken it on themselves to teach the young to sail. Any one of these youth may be the Blake’s or Burling’s of tomorrow. It is so often ‘that one person who gave their time and support’ that changes the life’s course of our youth.

“Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others”. – Suzy Kassem

By meeting the challenges of today, we ensure our children’s future.


Founder/Chief Executive – Wright Family Foundation

House of Science launches Might Microbes kit

Professor Siouxsie Wiles and House of Science Chris Duggan

Dr Siouxsie Wiles with House of Science founder Chris Duggan at the official launch of the latest addition to the House of Science school kits.
House of Science NZ celebrated along with their ambassador and NZer of the Year Dr Siouxsie Wiles the launch of the organisation’s latest science kit - ‘Mighty Microbes.’

“The kit is timely because it teaches children about viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and algae,” says House of Science NZ CEO Chris Duggan.” It covers the importance of beneficial microbes and how to protect ourselves from the harmful ones.” The student activities include a sneezing simulation to show how far aerosols spread, a handwashing activity using ‘glitterbugs’ that glow in UV light, bloHouse of science kitswing up balloons with fermenting yeast and making yoghurt to mention a few. There were plenty of science activities on display at the event for guests who attended the event at Trinity Wharf to have a go at and attempt some science themselves. With the buzz in the room, it was clear that these kits are engaging for all ages!

House of Science provides comprehensive science resource kits to 450 primary and intermediate schools nationwide which in turn gives teachers confidence in the classroom and results in engaged students. This is a significant reach as there are 2100 primary schools in NZ. “As we are a charitable trust we receive no funding from the government and instead rely on philanthropic funding, grants and donations, with the Wright Family Foundation a cornerstone partner since 2015,” says Chris.

Chris reflects that “There has been a lot of noise around how bad New Zealanders are at maths - it’s a very complex problem, with no simple solution -  but the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement Science results are a lot worse than maths. For Year Eight students 45 per cent were at curriculum level for maths compared with just 20 per cent for science so that’s clearly a lot worse!”

The Education Review Office recently completed its report -  the last one being done in 2012 - and found less than half the primary schools and early childhood centres it visited recently were teaching science well. “Interestingly, ERO has revealed in their report that the House of Science kits are a solution to improving science learning in the classroom” added Chris. 

You can read more about the House of Science here. 

Homes of Hope - The gift of a home

Home of Hope new build

The new home has been blessed by Kaumatua Tamati Tata and is now up and running.

 A new home has been gifted by the community of Tauranga for children from hard places.

These are children who have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect within the Bay of Plenty community and as a result, they have had to leave their homes through no fault of their own. One thing is for sure, every child loves their Mum and Dad, but when things go badly, sometimes they must leave their home for their own safety.  Homes of Hope have been a part of the Tauranga community for 18+ years caring for children  24/7, ages 0-12. Here brothers and sisters stay together for as long as they need to, they don't get moved from pillar to post while in away-from-home care. Being able to offer stable, nurturing environments for these children is the focus of Homes of Hope. This therapeutic approach helps to improve the mental, physical and emotional health of these children building self-worth and self-efficacy to enable them to flourish.

The success of the consistent wrap-around care and therapeutic support offered by the team is evident in the statistics where 81% of children who leave Homes of Hope move on to their forever homes.

This new home is the result of a conversation sparked between Nathan Watkins (Regional Manager, Classic Builders) and Hilary Price (CEO and Co-founder at Homes of Hope), along with lots of hard work from Nathan, the Classic Builders team including their committed sub-contractors. Cashmore Real Estate ensured every last penny required for the home build would be found which is exactly what happened through a black-tie dinner and auction.

The home cost approximately $390,000 to build and between Classic Builders, their team of subbies and tradies, Cashmore Real Estate, Wright Family Foundation, Sutherland Self Help Trust and Chaplain Gordon Parker all chipping in, the dream of a new home ready to house more children, was realised.

For more information, you can click here or check out the latest on their Facebook page.

Arohanui Strings - Symphony in the HuttArohanui Strings in full swing on stage  

Arohanui Strings in full swing on stage 

Arohanui Strings is the Hutt Valley’s own Sistema-inspired children’s music programme. In line with the Sistema model, all of their programmes are offered free of charge.

It has now been one year since Arohanui expanded their after-school programme into the Hutt Valley to five days a week.  Prabha Ravi, Arohanui's newly appointed General Manager takes real joy in this expansion, noting that "it is so heartening to see how fast the younger cohorts of children are learning".
Arohanui Strings in practice mode
Arohanui held their biggest event of the year so far - 'Symphony in the Hutt' in May, where 70 of their students played side-by-side with Orchestra Wellington in the Michael Fowler Centre. They performed an excerpt from one of the most famous classical works ever written, the Brandenburg Concerto #3 by J. S. Bach, alongside a fiddle tune from Ireland and a waiata. This event carried a tinge of sadness for Arohanui with the team farewelling their founder Alison Eldredge. "It won’t be the same without Alison’s energy", Prabha reflected.

A small intensive Holiday Programme was held at their Mt. Cook venue where students were fortunate to have Donald Armstrong and David Chickering from the NZSO come along on both days to give lessons to some students.     

With so much great music to choose from and their orchestra growing more and more competent every week, the team is enjoying bringing more diverse programmes to the students. With their team of nine tutors in the Hutt Valley and Wellington, and their new GM at the helm Arohanui plan on going onwards and upwards. Arohanui is now looking forward to its National Hui to keep the inspiration growing amongst its range of students.

You can learn more about Arohanui Strings here.

The 2021 New Zealand Book Awards 2021   

Christchurch author T K Roxborogh was awarded the prestigious 'Margaret Mahy Book of the Year'.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are a unique celebration of the contribution New Zealand’s children’s authors and illustrators make to building national identity and cultural heritage.

Every August awards are made in seven categories at this event celebrating the best in Children and Young Peoples literature, of which two are proudly sponsored by the Wright Family Foundation. This year the overall prize - the 'Margaret Mahy Book of the Year' was awarded to author T K Roxborough (pictured above) for her book Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea which tells a tale woven with māori mythology of a disabled Māori boy who meets a mermaid on the beach. Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea also took out the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award.

Convenor of judges Alan Dingley, praised the book’s uniquely New Zealand story, saying “We felt that this added depth to the story while not being the focal point, as did the underlying issue of humans disturbing the natural environment.”

The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for te reo Māori went to Ngake me Whātaitai, written by Ben Ngaia and illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers (Huia Publishers).In supporting these awards the foundation hopes to champion New Zealand writers who will inspire the imagination of children. Curiosity leads to children engaging more successfully in their education and broadens their knowledge. Ultimately helping to “grow the good” in all New Zealander's so we can all achieve our full potential.

For more on the 2021, New Zealand Book Awards click here.

Mothers Matter - 'Who holds our Mothers'

The Mothers Matter campaign gains momentum, inviting the country to unite to 'raise the red flag'.

Mother Matter continues to call on the New Zealand Government to provide equitable perinatal care for all women.

Stories continue to pour through to the campaign from mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and whanau. Stories of desperation for their loved ones, women who are suffering in silence. This silence, stealing precious milestones for the next generation of New Zealanders. 
We are being told that there is nowhere to go, that their needs for perinatal care are not being met. Women are living with perinatal issues such as pelvic floor issues, maternal mental health, vaginal tears and birth trauma. 

Mothers Matter is calling for equitable perinatal care across New Zealand via a targeted ring-fenced fund. This funding must be determined by the mother’s choice about the care she needs and receives. This should include the necessary wraparound services to meet her medical and wellbeing needs.

We know that when women do not have their perinatal care needs met, the well-being of those around them can suffer. We continue to ask 'Who holds our Mothers'. Are we a country that is happy to continue to sit in silence on this issue, knowing that women are not receiving the care that they deserve. 

The Government continues to be on notice – to give to New Zealand mothers, what is rightfully theirs – a dignified, valued and caring pregnancy, birth and aftercare. We continue to ask them 'Who Holds Our Mothers?'.

Mothers Matter is calling on New Zealand to come together and unite over this universal issue and demand action. To be a part of this determined drive for action, click here.

Quote of the day

When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.

Malala Yousafzai