From the desk of Chloe Wright
Kia ora, Talofa, Kia Orana, Greetings to all,
There I was, in a room full of people, and in marched the leading cohort of the Labour party 😊. Robertson, Little, et. al. and the gorgeous, smiling Jacinda. “At last!”, I thought, “after all these years of knocking on firmly shut doors, one of them, anyone, might engage in a korero about the inequities of our health system”. One of them might cast a crumb of their time my way. As my eyes swept the room, their collective averted gaze became apparent. I continued to move toward them.
Then the alarm went off. I desperately tried to get back to the dream, in my waking brain I realised fighting for the rights of pregnant women and their pepe, and the fallout of mental health for our most vulnerable had only ever been a dream. My dream was not shared by ‘the leading cohort’.
Mothers Matter came out of 2021 ready to engage with the government, ready to pick up the banner and charge forward. Ready to do the mahi. Only to be met with the cold stare of indifference. Why has the government of New Zealand, the so-called “bastion of women’s rights,” failed our women so miserably? (See this prominent example here) Because they can. By stealth and through our complacency, women’s sense of empowerment is being eroded by control, dependency, and fear.
We had family come to stay during the holiday break and, as in our childhood, we sat around the kitchen table discussing the politics of the day. Whereas our parents were strong supporters of Labour, always working for the rights, (and speaking of the responsibilities), of the ‘common man’, now like our country, we had become divided in our allegiances, we questioned the core values. My father, who we never saw take a day off, wrote copious letters to the Editor, to politicians, expressing the need for a decent wage. We were always taught you work for what you get. (I still have the newspaper clippings kept safe). Our mother prepared every meal, sewed dresses for us six girls. We played, we walked everywhere, we were explorers. Our state house had a backyard where dad grew vegetables, the boys fixed their bikes and built things. The front of the house had trees and a flower garden mother developed. We knew our neighbours, they knew us. We were secure and loved.
We are telling our children to care for the environment while taking away the green spaces. Two-metre-high solid wood fences to keep people out. This new housing, if you can afford it, has no room to have the biodiversity of a garden for children to experience nature. Nature that is abundant in a garden without pesticides. Where are the bees? Pastureland now turned into pine forests.
The fabric of our society is being ripped apart by a construct of separatism. I hear in the voices of our people, the rolling thunder of discontent.
“So”, my sister said. “What would you do differently?”. As I told her, I did not choose the path of a politician, so I look for the ideology of those I feel are experienced in real life, who have built the businesses, who have done the hard yards. Those who understand the difference between a ‘hand up’ and a ‘hand out’. Those who will make decisions that lead our people on a path to success in our homeland and globally.
I am unable to support policies that create dependence, entitlement, ultimately fear and control over a population, where education and healthcare are not providing our people with the skills and mindset to be successful contributing members of society. Ignoring the inequities in place before Covid does not make them go away.
Perhaps the dream emerged through the incongruous planning of a Labour Prime Minister’s wedding. In true Marie Antionette style, to be held at the estate of an American billionaire, a display such as ‘lives of the rich and famous’ while our businesses suffer and fail, suicides rise, and families will forever grieve for not being with loved ones when dying. “Let them eat cake’ was never so blatant a slap in the face for ‘the team of five million’. Even Willie Jackson should have found this cringeworthy.
“So, where to from here?” my brother asked. “Well,” I said, “as I see it, we are in a lifeboat with no hope of support on the horizon”. From the Beehive, they see people waving, when they are drowning. We must make it to safe harbour alone.
And that is what Mothers Matter will do. We will create our Tūrangawaewae. We will support our mothers to create that space where they are safe. We will honour our women’s inner wisdom. We will, in the spirit of today and Dame Whina Cooper who worked to improve the lot for Māori women, work for the rights of all women throughout the nation. And therein will lie the success of our tamariki, tane, whānau.
And, as always, we will continue to support the dedicated organisations that bring light into the lives of our children through health, education, literacy, music, the arts, and environmental initiatives
Ia manuia, arohanui, love to all,
Founder/Chief Executive – Wright Family Foundation
Mauao Performing Arts Centre | TOTARA ST
"We believe the arts are so important to our youth, and even us slightly older folk. They add colour to people's lives, and we look forward to working with the Foundation on some exciting upcoming projects in the not too distant future" - Jay Munro
"We are honoured and are extremely grateful for what the Wright Family Foundation has done for us over the past couple of months" director Jay Munro shares.
Unfortunately, the current Covid pandemic has meant that The Mauao Performing Arts Centre Charitable Trust has found itself with quite the challenge on its hands, unable to fulfil its objective which is "to build and manage a performing arts centre that is accessible to the wider community". The Trust, which rents the premises at 11 Totara Street, Mount Maunganui operates two companies at this location they call 'home'.
The first, Mauao PAC Arts Academy Ltd provides one-on-one music tuition to over 70 students per week, a kids choir, group music lessons, special needs group classes and employs 12 tutors to teach these lessons. The other, TOTARA ST Ltd which is in the back half of the building, is a purpose-built live music venue with a capacity of 400. "There is somewhat of a crossover between the two businesses and it really does result in an awesome musical hub for the wider community. Students work towards taking their skills to the stage at the End of Term Student Concerts and the venue operates 3-4 times a week with a wide range of events varying from Rock & Roll shows, Jazz performances, Autism Awareness Gigs, Musical Workshops, Band Rehearsals, Private Functions and Corporate Events" Jay explains.
The impact of the Covid restrictions meant that this formidable team were forced to shut the door, Jay paints this devastating picture, telling us that "in the past 21 months we have been unable to trade for 9 of them, and each time a lockdown occurred for us it was the same as everyone else, there was no line in the sand to work towards or any idea of when we could book events and trade again".
With determination, passion and creativity the team at The Mauao Performing Arts Centre Charitable Trust worked hard to ride through the first lockdowns with Government assistance, an IRD loan, business savings and a "Save our Venues" nationwide initiative crowdfunding campaign. "However, by the time lockdown number three rolled around and continued with no end in sight things were getting really tight and we reached out to Ollie and Sam Wright. The third time around was different, our savings had been spent keeping us afloat, the landlord wasn't as accommodating, the Save Our Venues funding was gone and the writing was on the wall that the doors would be closed and would not re-open".
Ollie and Samuel from the foundation saw the importance of supporting this cultural and creative hub, offering support that Jay insists has kept the Mauao Performing Arts Centre and TOTARA ST alive.
" We are extremely appreciative of what the Wright Family Foundation has provided us with to ensure that the facility that the trust has put together for the community will remain here into the future".
The Mauao Performing Arts Centre's mission is to provide a fun and educational experience in the performing arts and associated industry fields. To find out more just click this link.
The Spirit of Adventure
A helping hand for our rangatahi to reach their full potential through the challenge of the sea.
"This voyage has encouraged and inspired me to live my life better and to make the most of my life" - Trainee
The ethos of the Wright Family Foundation and overall mission is to enable individuals to reach their full potential, we are delighted this year to partner with the Spirit of Adventure Trust, an organisation passionate about “empowering young New Zealanders to reach their full potential through the challenge of the sea.”
The Spirit of Adventure Trust has been dedicated to running youth development voyages for rangatahi across New Zealand for nearly 50 years. Their signature 10-day voyage for 16–18-year-olds takes participants on a voyage of growth and personal discovery. This voyage has huge positive impacts, helping young people develop and realise their full potential and improving the wellbeing of those that take part. These rangatahi experience personal growth, face many challenges, learn and develop a range of crucial life-long skills such as resilience, communication, confidence and leadership, bolstering this is the long-lasting relationships they form with people they wouldn’t usually meet.
The cost to take part however is a barrier for some, preventing many young people from joining a voyage. As a result, the WFF Trust run a scholarship programme to remove that barrier and ensure that ANYONE who wants or needs to can take part.
"We know that great things happen when we invest time in our young people, so we are thrilled to be a part of this solution! We will be working with the team at Spirit to provide 10 – 20 scholarships to enable that vital helping hand to get deserving rangatahi experiencing the magic that is a voyage on Spirit of New Zealand" our founder Chloe tells us.
Nicola Garland who captains the fundraising ship adds " This opportunity is even more pertinent during our this Covid-19 world we live in, where we know how valuable and life-changing experiences such as these are. We cannot wait to see and hear the impact this funding has on our next group of trainees".
To learn more about the Spirit of Adventure Trust click here.
Roots of Empathy
“Finding the humanity in the baby and developing the language to discuss the baby’s feelings is the launching pad for children to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others.”
- Mary Gordon, Founder/President, Roots of Empathy
Roots of Empathy delivers a programme whose purpose is to support young people to explore and develop their understanding of their own feelings as well as the feelings of others. The ultimate goal here is to enhance empathy and this, in turn, offers a range of benefits for the whole class, the school as well as the whole community.
Evidence tells us that a developed sense of empathy leads to more respectful and caring relationships and reduces aggression and bullying. The delivery of this life-affirming program across primary schools across New Zealand is proudly supported by the Wright Family Foundation. As we are hearing across the country, our young people Covid has placed many challenges on our young people. Teachers have found that having this program available to them has lightened the load for young people where they had the joy of a parent and baby (the Tiny Teacher) visiting their classrooms once a month over the school year.
"One teacher shared that after the lockdown there were some tamariki who hardly spoke a word. She was surprised and delighted to find that after the first Baby visit they started to communicate again.", program manager Ally tells us. At the end of each programme year, tamariki are given the opportunity to make a Wishing Tree for their Baby. They are asked to consider the age they are currently and what they would like life to be like for their baby when he/she reaches their age, a beautiful opportunity for young people to share their own learned wisdom.
Some of these wishes are for all ages to live by, such as this one from Elena “I hope that you can find beautiful friends who can always have your back, no matter what.” and this one from Hannah “I hope you grow up into a kind person and that you have lots of friends in your future,”.
Interested in learning more about the work of 'Roots of Empathy'?
You can check out their website here.
“We are unlike other software and coding based education as we encourage students to create physical results using robotics".
Kiwibots had an incredible weekend to finish January 2022, holding their VEX IQ Nationals in Palmerston North, with them using their clever skills to keep within Covid guidelines, two separate events over two days. This included Elementary and Middle School teams competing from all over Aotearoa, each team vying to be the next New Zealand Champion!
Schools came together from Auckland to Christchurch, where the teams of tamariki impressed the judges with their combined skills in robotic designing, building and teamwork challenges. "The robotic skills required are part of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and challenge our children from all walks of life in a super fun and enjoyable way!
Collaboration is the key and all teams must work together to become the champions! No teams can win on their own", National Operations Manager, Michelle Hazeleger-Mollard explains. The judges represented all areas of STEM coming from a range of groups such as the RNZAF, Umajin Design and Deloitte Design.
"We would like to send a huge thanks to our major sponsor the Wright Family Foundation! You allowed these young people to develop the technical, social, practical and emotional skills in engineering and design that future-proof our Kiwi kids and future-proof New Zealand. They are the future of Aotearoa" Michelle shares.
We send huge congratulations to all of the deserved winners; we will cross our fingers and toes that you get to compete at this year's World Championships!
Interested in learning more about Kiwibots? You can check out their website here.
Mothers Matter - 'Who holds our Mothers'
Empowered women, empower women.
Mothers Matter has begun 2022 with a flying start, we have been having lively discussions with colleagues, professionals and with our Mothers Matter whanau via our social media pages. We are hearing that the mamas of New Zealand across the country are losing hope for meaningful policy change in our Maternal Health system and are instead looking at ways to connect with each other. Women more than ever are craving connection and belonging, a life that uplifts and restores and has her back with open arms ready to carry her when needed.
The beauty of our network is that we reach across many generations, hearing from women who gave birth over 30 years ago, the resounding question we hear from these women is 'what happened?' with the added sentiment that they are watching the current generation of mothers suffer needlessly, struggling to be all that our modern society demands of them. We do not have an answer, despite years of reaching our hand out for engagement.
As Hinerangi Cooper-Puru, the daughter of Dame Whina Cooper so accurately described "a mothers work only ends with her last breath". We are the keepers of so much, and yet our women are experiencing a maternal health system that is unable to keep them well. Midwives are telling us that they hold grave fears for the future of our midwifery lead system, women are telling us they cannot access care, let alone care that meets their choice and needs.
While the Government continues its silence and lack of meaningful action, we are taking the bold step to respond to the isolation and disconnection that women are feeling and asking for across the nation. Our response will be focused on creating connection and belonging at the grassroots level, with the privilege of journeying alongside women, together we shall lift each other up.
We will continue our demands for a maternal health system that wholly responds to the needs and choices of women. Stay tuned for further details of this powerful project via our social media channels below.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the work of the NZ Green Party and Jan Logie in particular for driving changes to our ACC legislation, ensuring women receive full access to treatment for their recovery following birth, to find out more and more importantly to add your voice to their call for change click here. Let the government know that you agree and demand that "... all parents deserve support for the pain and suffering that can be caused through childbirth".
To keep informed and to connect with us - follow @mothersmatternz on Facebook or Instagram.
To connect with us directly, pop us an email here.