From the desk of Chloe Wright
Kia ora, Talofa, Kia Orana, Greetings to all,
Sunday night back at the keyboard. But what a glorious weekend -hands buried in the dirt, ripping out weeds, turning over soil rich with worms and sheep pellets. Jockeying for parks at my two favourite stores; Bunnings and Mega Mitre 10. A couple of sneaky looks at the computer and phone. Time with family. And to make it perfect, once again this year mother duck turned up outside the kitchen window, with 13 ducklings!
At a recent Board meeting, a Trustee asked, “are we ever going to have fun?”. As I dug and stretched muscles that I haven’t felt in a long while, I thought of the people who still manage to laugh and live with those joyful moments in hard times. Nowhere celebrates life like the team of Nga Hau Birthing Centre on the edge of Mangere Township. They have taken the perfection of the carefully architect-designed building and created a hub brimming with the values of a mostly Pasifika community. I can hardly wait to be able to walk back through those doors and see Chantel and Tish. There is always an eruption of laughter. I love those mamas ❤️.
At a Pink Ribbon breakfast, Jan Tinetti (Labour MP) told her story of breast cancer. A devastating situation but the way she told us of her journey she had us all in fits of laughter (and tears). Jan turned a scary life event into a lesson of empathy and love. The PM is sometimes caught on camera waiting for a TV interview, where you know she will get a grilling, and yet something sets her off and her laughter causes me to laugh. I appreciate that those who hold incredibly responsible positions must have levity in their lives to survive the onslaught of criticism. Laughter really is the best medicine. Shared with friends it is that booster jab we are looking for ❤️.
So, although we plan for the worst, we hope for the best. We can relearn to laugh at the foibles of others, be kind, but not so PC that we are hogtied by fear. I recall, a few short years ago, being ‘interviewed' by a kaumatua; he said, “It was you fellas who created all this PC, not us”. I always want to understand and respect protocols, but that should not stop us from wrapping our arms around others so that we may laugh and cry with them. To be human is to laugh and cry.
We all have people special to us. A catch up with Huia Hanlon (CE Brainwave Trust) is like a lovely long walk in the forest, calming and inspiring. Janet’s enthusiasm for spelling and the frenzy of the New Zealand Spelling Bee Aotearoa is an environment of nail-biting tension for students, teachers, parents. I love it! Wayne and Pah Mills bring such energy to Kids Lit. These students will leave you astounded. Thank you, Wayne and Pah, for showing us what is possible and for hanging in there with all the difficulties COVID presents.
To be called ‘mate’ by Nathan Wallis, neuroscientist, to know Dave Aitkenson (CE Parenting Place), looks forward to my lemon cake. To share intimacies, like our families, with the amazing people who settle into relationships with us in the Foundation is humbling, exciting, and proof positive that at the end of the day relationships that are authentic, inclusive, and sharing last the longest. Are valued the most.
Life is full of opportunities if we have eyes and ears open. What a wonderful journey we have come on recently. Our little team attended a spectacular concert put on by the women of Arohata Correctional facility. What talent! The recognition that for many, how life began surely is a predictor of future direction but what incredible opportunity for others to give a hand up to mothers, families, children who are struggling in their early years. How often have I heard from someone who overcame roadblocks, ‘it was (that one person) who taught me to believe in myself'.
We look forward to getting to know the community of Magical Mangawhai as they launch their program to teach the young sailing. Whether it be sailing, music, literacy, resilience, discipline, and exploration of ideas that come from learning new skills that will stand these children in good stead for their entire lives. The skills shared with young families from Parenting Place will improve their journey for themselves and family. Sharing skills with anyone can improve confidence and bring someone into an inclusive environment. Every kind action has an impact.
Bring on Spring, new growth, new opportunities for all. Your smile today just may make my tomorrow more liveable.
Founder/Chief Executive – Wright Family Foundation
Mangawhai Rotary Satellite Club - The Learn-To-Sail Project
" Our dream is that one day, maybe one day, one or more of our local youngsters we taught to sail will represent our great sailing nation on the global stage"
Some time ago in a far-off land called Mangawhai, two aging guys who knew a little and a lot about sailing, thought it would be a great idea to pass some if not all of that knowledge onto the local children in the small community. But would the children be interested? The guys had no idea, so they turned to modern technology for help. Social Media!
They created some blogs on local Facebook pages asking if the local parents and their children between the ages of 8-16, and weighing in at less than 70kg, would be interested in learning how to sail a craft no bigger, and looking very much like your average bathtub but prettier.
In less than 48 hours the response was overwhelming, it was obvious that within the community not only did many parents want their children to learn how to sail! They realised too just how much fun and knowledge could be gained from messing about on the magical Mangawhai river’s pristine environment in these miniature boats.
The guys took their idea to Rotary, and so another Rotary project was born. This was not your average short-term project, this one was going to be ongoing "like for years and years" chairman of the Mangawhai Rotary Club and co-founder of the club Dennis Emsley tells us, "just as long as there were kids who wanted to learn how to sail the club would be willing to teach them for free" he continues.
The guys started the project with nothing but a dream. They acquired a couple of second-hand boats and started to refurbish them, whilst at the same time the number of youngsters who were registering to take part kept growing and growing. They needed help, so once again they turned to Social Media for that help, and once again that help was forthcoming in more ways than one.
They heard nothing for weeks and weeks and a serious depression set in amongst the two aging guys, until one day an email appeared from an angle named Chloe Wright. Dennis tells us that this email "offered a lifeline of support and curiosity to know more about the project. Her email words spoke volumes about joy, passion and positive outcomes, things that us two guys and others within Mangawhai Rotary club had in common".
The Wright Family Foundation donated $20,000 to the club which enabled the team to purchase four brand new OptiQube boats fully equipped and ready to sail plus some life jackets. "Chloe Wright has been a true inspiration to this project" reflects Dennis. These may be floating bathtubs but the late great Sir Peter Blake and many other famous New Zealand sailors learnt to sail on them. In doing this we want to create joy, passion and a positive outcome.
To follow the adventures of the magical Mangawhai learn-to-sail club click here.
Poipoia te kākano, kia puāwai. Nurture the seed and it will blossom.
Brainwave Trust Aotearoa has been running workshops for whanau and professional audiences on the importance of early brain development of tamariki for over 20 years. Understanding the amazing development that happens during the early years can help whanau and professionals, including frontline kaimahi (workers) and policymakers, to respond in ways that provide opportunities for tamariki to grow up healthy and loved.
The Wright Family Foundation supports the work that Brainwave does across the country with communities and in secondary schools. The brainwave Kaiako (Educators) reach into the communities that they are based in. Here one kaiako, Luella shares her recent experiences of facilitating one of the brainwave programs - 'Tiakina te Tamaiti'.
"Tiakina te Tamaiti gives me an opportunity to share neuroscience with whānau who do not usually have access to this type of information," Luella tells us. Grounding the learning in mātauranga Māori provides a different lens, with the impact of this is evidenced through the "spark you see in people's eyes" about parenting practices when these are linked together through this unique style of program delivery.
Although whānau may have the information, trying to make it through day-to-day if you are living with toxic stress can be a massive challenge. At Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae in Māngere, there are many women involved (grandmothers, mums, rangatahi) and they have a great reach into the community to whānau who need support.
Whānau really love hearing about how fast a baby's brain grows! "Learning how important those early years are and equating that to brain development is like a penny dropping" explains Luella.
"It is amazing how much mātauranga is out there; linking it together with child development and reflection is empowering for everyone" reflects Huia Hanlen (CE).
Kids Lit - The Tzars of Reading
"To get a ten out of ten is the bookish equivalent of hitting a cricket ball over the boundary for six"
Schools often praise the kids who can find the back of the net, plough through the water in backstroke, play Fur Elise on the piano or solve quadratic patterns. But what if your kid is good, really really good at reading? Most parents probably accept reading as its own reward but to witness kids at the fourteen national Kids’ Lit Quiz™competitions around New Zealand get rewarded for reading for pleasure is spectacular.
The rules are simple: there are ten rounds, each with ten questions in a particular category. Questions are read out and team members confer and then write down their answers. The questions are wide-ranging from ancient myths (think Percy Jackson) to children’s classics (think Alice in Wonderland) to contemporary best-sellers (think Harry Potter) nursery rhymes and comics. Founder Wayne Mills explains "in a round on bird-themed questions, you might have: What giant bird was capable of lifting elephants? What was the name of Prof Dumbledore’s bird companion? What birds pecked off the maid’s nose? Who’s the supervillain that wears a tuxedo in Gotham City?".
After the answers have been collected and the marks tallied the quizmaster supplies the answers. The tension is palpable. There are groans of disappointment, delighted smiles and the occasional air punch. And that’s just from the parents!
The winning team in each category receives a Whitcoulls book token each from the sponsor, and for an added incentive the quizmaster carries around a wad of $5 notes which are dished out to spot questions throughout the competition. "Oh, and there are also book vouchers for the adults too for guessing right for such questions as 'What was the title of the book by Richard Bach about a deep-thinking seagull?' " Wayne joyously tells us.
The quiz continues through the categories such as colours, footwear, escapes, food, doctors etc and by this time any nervousness has been dispelled and there’s a twittering of anticipation.
The quizmaster roves between the tables questioning, encouraging, complimenting, recommending books in a steady banter. Although it’s a competition, it’s not scarily so. The literary scope is so wide-ranging from Dr Seuss to Dr Dolittle, Dahl to Walliams, Homer the ancient Greek to Homer (the overweight Simpson character) that each team is bound to get a good few right. But to get a ten out of ten is the bookish equivalent of hitting a cricket ball over the boundary for six and draws whoops and high fives and mums and dads don’t have to get coronaries running up and down the sidelines.
Interested in learning more or following the Kids Lit journey? Check out their website here.
“I really enjoyed this course. I love that it makes me miss my children, shows me that parenting is FUN! I absolutely love this course and recommend it.” - Building Awesome Whanau feedback
Wright Family Foundation’s support has enabled the delivery of 47 Parenting Place Toolbox and Building Awesome Whānau courses throughout the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Rotorua over the last year. As a result, hundreds of whānau were encouraged and equipped to build strong, healthy relationships. Through this 'walking alongside' approach New Zealand Families can't help but be inspired and empowered to grow their potential. Here is just a little glimpse into some of the feedback from some of these families who benefitted from this important work.
Such as from the Building Awesome Whānau program in Tauranga:
“I loved how we were able to all communicate about our situations that have happened in the past, that we were able to pinpoint what the problem was and how it could have been dealt with and what we could do better if the challenge arises again.”
Or this wonderful feedback from the Teenage Years Toolbox in Hamilton:
“I’ve found the idea that five positives are needed for every negative interaction has been helpful; I’m using genuine positive words more and have a seen a real shift with that. I’ve also realised that I’m the one that can change the atmosphere when things ‘turn to custard’.”
The parenting courses that the Wright Family Foundation are making possible are meeting the needs of parents and families in their unique circumstances. These courses provide relatable and personalised strategies that make a profound difference for families, truly aligning with the ethos here at the Wright Family Foundation of 'Growing the Good'.
Interested in learning more about the work at Parenting Place? You can out their website here.
Mothers Matter - 'Who holds our Mothers'
"Effective services targeting perinatal mental health will have lasting trans-generational influence" - The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018
Myths about motherhood and what the role looks like in today's world, expectations on ourselves, expectations from others, expectations on our families. Lack of sleep, lack of knowledge, lack of care and nourishment. These are some of the few reasons for the escalating rates of maternal suffering we are experiencing here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
We are no longer living in communities where there is a natural flow of knowledge from the wisdom of our elders, or a natural flow of practical support from our village. We are living more and more in isolation. We have been hearing from those on the ground this past month about the change they are seeing in the mothers of today. Our modern mothers are becoming isolated even from themselves, the inherent knowledge and wisdom that women used to hold is being lost.
We are seeing a degradation of women's abilities to hold autonomy and an inner knowing over their own bodies, minds and spirits. This is not the fault of our women, for we have removed this way of learning from our society and the systems within.
Mothers Matter is listening and talking with a whole range of people in this space, and we are hearing that we need to restore the 'mother'. This is why we ask the question to our Government 'Who holds the Mother'?
It is only through a revitalisation of our Maternal Health system that we can reinvigorate the 'Mother'. By ringfencing perinatal funding so that women are able to access care that is of their choice and need, can we begin this process of restoration. We know that we have a huge gap of skilled services that are equipped to respond to this need and choice. Services such as a well resourced Maternal Mental health helpline, a system that provides comprehensive physiological checks for women postnatally and prenatally. Crucially we need to embed regular holistic mental health checkups throughout the perinatal period and it goes without saying that all of these services must be accessible, relatable and equitable to every single woman in New Zealand. Recent announcements by the Government to changes to ACC funding will go some way to address these long-overdue needs. Mothers Matter will continue to advocate and lobby for a Maternal Health system that works alongside Mums and Dads so that they can provide the best beginning possible for their pepi.
Watch this space for some powerful media content we are working on.
To stay posted follow us on Facebook or Instagram. To connect with us directly, pop us an email here.
Quote of the day
When the world says "give up",
hope whispers "try it one more time.