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1 December 2021

WFF Newsletter December 2021

From the desk of Chloe Wright

Kia ora, Talofa, Kia Orana, Greetings to all,

This has been a year unlike any other I can remember. Shakespearean in content. Filled with betrayals, political disruptions, shattered expectations, bureaucratic malaise.

And throughout it all those moments of inexpressible joy. That’s me, how about you? As we draw near the end of 2021, I imagine you, like me, will reflect on the hardships as well as the growth many of us have experienced.

It is the love that comes from within that sustains us, gives us the resilience to push on, adapt, and look for better times. This is the moment when we all look forward to taking a deep breath, being close with family and friends, closing the door on that which has caused so much grief throughout the world. We must be grateful that we here on our small islands have remained, in large part, physically unscathed.

It is the mental health of our people that I feel most concerned about. The marginalisation of those who do not conform with the majority. Teachers, medical professionals, those who support communities in so many ways. Our identities are so tied up in what we ‘do’, how we are viewed, and our cohort of colleagues who may no longer align. Identity is a terrible thing to lose.
Goodwill to all mankind should not just be for Christmas or any other time of religious celebration. If we do not bear goodwill to our fellow beings, then surely, we have missed the point.   

As the relentless optimist, I would like to shout out a big thanks to the politicians who have engaged with us in our Mothers Matter quest for equality of care for the ‘hand that rocks the cradle’. Jan Tinetti (Labour MP for Tauranga) introduced Sarah Pallett, (Labour MP for Ilam, Christchurch) an ex-midwife who understands the critical importance of the ‘fourth-trimester’ care (the period post-birth when mothers have most need of support). Sarah understands every $ invested in life’s beginning by the government, saves around $19 in ongoing support. We are hopeful of further engagement.

We held a Parliamentary breakfast back in March of this year to launch our Mothers Matter campaign, ‘Who Holds Our Mothers’. The film generated a massive response across the nation basically saying, “at last someone cares enough to tell the real story”. At that time, a backbencher, MP Christopher Luxon was in attendance and shared with me a clear understanding and passion for supporting our mothers (and fathers) to break harmful generational cycles of behaviour to ensure that our children thrive. At last, we have a politician who is a realist, does not run from the ‘inconvenient truth’ and recognizes action that is meaningful, long term, and practical. (Click here to watch Christopher Luxon talk about 'Mothers Matter').

My last political mention, and to whom the Gold goes to is Chris Bishop, National MP Lower Hutt. Chris has been relentless in his pursuit of transformational health outcomes for our Mamas, Pepe, and Whanau. A society that celebrates success through education and aspirational initiative creates people who take responsibility for their own success. No excuses. I just love leaders who are more concerned for the folk of their electorate and beyond, than for their own image.

Now for the really good stuff. Who are these people disrespecting the ‘old grey (white) men’? A group of elders at Mangawhai are teaching youth not only to sail but to be champions. You disrespect the older generation, you disrespect the values of Maori, Pasifika, Indian, Chinese and many more. You too, who disrespect your elders will grow old, but will you have their heart, energy and lived experience, to give genuine kindness?  More good stuff: Quentosity Awards given for 16-18-year-olds for the most innovative, global applications to art, environmental, social, initiatives. Fantastic!

Continued support under the most trying conditions by the many non-governmental organizations to support our young and our at risk. Research, if listened to, would change the course of generational hopelessness. Outstanding! The research we are privileged to partner with can be transformational for our children and world leading.

We live on the cusp of great change. Imagine if: we stopped talking about the gap between the rich and the poor and instead talk about the gap between the educated and uneducated. We stop thinking we must import specialists, but we educate our people to do these jobs. We are meant to prosper by the sweat of our own brow. It may be harder for some, but the sweetness is in the achievement. There are not many who do not have hurdles to overcome, it is believing and hard work that gets us there.

And this is what I wish for, at this time of the year in particular, that our children may be free to dream, work hard and be celebrated. That the older generation may be the best role models for the young and the still older generation may be surrounded with family, friends, and have the satisfaction of knowing their legacy will bear fruit in the next generation. Perhaps not the usual Christmas wish but we are living in unusual times.

Bountiful aroha to all,

Founder/Chief Executive – Wright Family Foundation

New Zealand Aotearoa Spelling Bee

A competition for students who love words

In 2021 it has been rare for any of the events for students to be held live. Janet Lucas did an outstanding job on navigating through lockdowns and uncertainty to once again bring the Aotearoa New Zealand Spelling Bee live to Wellington, (linked to Auckland speller).
Once again this year was a nail-biting2021 Aotearoa New Zealand Spelling Bee final competition with the best of New Zealand spellers from year 9 and 10 duking it out with words. It could be said it was anyone’s to win, depending on the words that came their way.

The audience was clearly relieved it was not them before the judges! The students spent all year preparing with their lists but perhaps more importantly these are youth who read! It is reading as we know that excites the imagination, gives one the vocabulary to hold their own in conversation, and prepares one for tertiary study.

The commitment of teachers and parents are also to be aChloe Wright presents the winners cuppplauded. Congratulations to Max Carter from Scots College who correctly spelled gossamer for taking this years cup. Congratulations also go to the two mighty runners ups Jessica Park (Chilton St James, Wellington) and Lias Morris (Wellington High School).

Chloe Wright is the Patron for the Aotearoa Spelling Bee New Zealand

Click this link to find out more about New Zealand Aotearoa Spelling Bee  

Cansurvive Dragon Boat team 

Breast Friends Paddling for Life 

"Making the book, also brought the whole club together to create something beautiful, has really lifted our spirits"

"It was a dream project in the spirit of our team - Kotahi - unity !" shares Betty Cosgrove, as she recounts the challenges that 2021 and its devastating impact on the club's ability to fundraise.
Dragon Boating is an expensive sport to participate in with costs of equipment and competitions plus the need for a safety boat crew for all practice runs.

The boat has to qualify to compete at National competitions, these alternate between the North and South Islands alongside the challenge of competing in the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission Worlds (IBCPC). The IBCPC usually alternates between the North and Southern hemispheres every four years, that is until covid reared its nasty self. CanSurvive were in the finals on the Arno River in Florence, Italy in 2018 against 128 teams from around the world and finished second to Canada.  The heat is on for the next world, guess where?  Lake Karapiro, NZ April 2023 put it in your diary now! This will be the first time ever in New Zealand, thousands of paddlers with supporters attend.

The fundraising challenges brought by COVID meant the clubs fundraising efforts needed a creative rethink, a suggestion came from Iona Elwood Smith to publish a 'Cook Book' and have it ready in time for Christmas. "The brief was to make it fun and definitely professional in order to raise much-needed funds" explains club member Ngawai Richardson,  "The quote came in to print 1,000 copies, which weren’t for the faint-hearted, this project was less risqué than previous projects SO it was on!". Sponsors were now needed to make the plan viable.

A fortuitous meeting with club member Ngawai Richardson and Chloe Wright at the women’s prison in Wellington triggered a korero resulting in her believing in their ambitious project. With an offer of support, the team could now plan and move forward with pace. Time was of the essence!

"We have a wealth of talent in the team who stepped up and well – here we are” reflects Ngawai,  "A beautiful book to share some stories and special kai with whanau and friends". The price along with most things grew – "without the backing and belief in us, this enterprise would have not passed the ‘dream’ stage. CanSurvive appreciate Wright Family Foundation’s backing as Exercise is our Medicine". 
Purchase with this link and cook up your ‘breast’ feast – Enjoy!

Good Neighbour

Helping boys find their place in the world by creating a sense of belonging, brotherhood and community
'Food at the Heart of Change' is part of Good Neighbour Trust’s mission which has five arms to its charity.  Food Rescue & Kitchen is a huge part of how they support their community. Good Neighbour Kitchen program in action
Good Neighbour rescues food destined for landfills from 13 local Bay of Plenty supermarkets and a variety of commercial food suppliers. Through reusing this food waste through their kitchen program for local boys a significant amount of food is prevented from entering landfills. This kitchen programme, sponsored by the Wright Family Foundation is designed to support young men who struggle at school, supporting them to stay engaged in learning, building confidence and self-worth. "This prepares students to better cope with life’s challenges through managed failures and successes. We operate in small groups of 4-5 boys at a time to allow individual focused learning to occur" Angela, Good Neighbour explains. 
This innovative program, led by chefs and mentors Lee Pearce and James Broad focuses on "students wThe Kitchen program celebrate their delicious cake ho are not necessarily engaged at school, those who need a community and whānau around them. Boys who are struggling to achieve in a mainstream school, or who have lost their way or are without identity". Students get the opportunity to connect with peers from all walks of life, finding positive role models with real-life experience.

The Kitchen program is a live functioning engine adding to the vibrancy of learning, further to this is the benefit these boys feel by making a difference in the community through the food they make and share. For these boys, experiencing first-hand the communities appreciation for their hard-earned contributions is a beautiful lesson in reciprocity. In this unique hands-on environment, participants can earn NZQA units along the way, adding to their opportunities and options for their future plans. 

Feedback from the program has been overwhelmingly positive, with boys reporting 'feeling a sense of purpose', 'generosity for others' and 'to feel success'. This success builds mana for these youth, helping them find their place of belonging in the wider world and preparing them for life beyond school.

Interested in learning more about Good Neighbour? You can check out their website here.

Mothers Matter - 'Who holds our  Mothers'Raise the Red Flag

"It takes a village, and sleep when you can" 

We published a series of Ads in National print media last month asking for public feedback as to what change is needed in our Maternal Health System. Five simple questions were put out to midwives, GP's, doctors, nurses, allied health, police and whanau. The overwhelming reaction was that yes we need a change, we heard too that those in this field are passionate and dedicated about their work, but, are restricted by our current system to carry out this work to its full potential.

What we heard most clearly though, and what this past year has been singing to the Mothers Matter team is that mamas have never been more isolated. Women are living in a society that no longer has the time, space or energy to wrap itself around its mothers in the way that is so inherently human. As the opening quote shared with us by a whanau member reminds us - "it takes a village". 

While we continue our advocacy work and continue to invite discussion from politicians so that action can follow we realise also that we too can begin the work of restoring connection for mamas. Watch this space. 

Our focus on listening to our vast community of experiences has meant that our production team have been on the road (as Covid allowed) hearing from women, professionals and whanau as to their first-hand experience of our maternal health system. We will be shining a light on these stories with a beautiful piece of media in 2022. 

To stay posted follow us on Facebook or Instagram. To connect with us directly, pop us an email here.

Quote of the day

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

Pema Chödrön