In an ideal world, our tamariki would all learn the values of integrity (pono), resilience (taikaha), positive relationships (whanaungatanga) and respect (manaakitanga) at a young age.
But in some cases, children are missing out on these life lessons at home. So the Graeme Dingle Foundation is stepping up nationwide to fill that gap with its school-based Kiwi Can programme.
In Rotorua, four primary and intermediate schools (comprising about 700 students) receive a values-based lesson each week from local Kiwi Can leaders. Graeme Dingle Foundation Rotorua Regional Manager Nicola Smallwood says the programme is aimed at children aged 5 to 12 years, and the same four key values are taught every year.
“So by the time you’ve been through your entire primary school years, you really understand those concepts. With the five year-olds obviously, we start with quite a basic understanding and then we build on that.
“Kids look forward to the day Kiwi Can comes to their school. When they see the leaders, they get excited and that’s partly because of the way the programme is delivered. It’s full of high energy, fun activities. You might teach them about respect but then you get up and play a big game and then ask them ‘how did we show respect in that game?’”
Nicola says the schools involved have noticed an increase in engagement and co-operative behaviour, and a decrease in bullying, as a result of the programme.
School principals at Horohoro School, Mamaku School, Kaitao Intermediate and Sunset Primary all say their students are making positive progress with their social skills and self-management since Kiwi Can launched in Rotorua in 2018.
“The programme has shown further benefits in 2020 with the effects of COVID-19 on students’ wellbeing felt throughout the year,” one principal observed. “Students really enjoy participating in the programme. There are high levels of engagement and the leaders are well supported to deliver enjoyable programmes.”
The students themselves are also singing Kiwi Can’s praises. “Kiwi Can guides us children to become young leaders. Also to respect, be responsible, be resilient and be encouraging. As we keep going, I feel like we are coming more together as a family,” says one Year 8 student.
“People learn how to be kind and not shout at people,” reports another Year 5 child.
Multi-Year Funding Secured
BayTrust has approved a $75,000 multi-year grant ($25,000 per year for three years) to help the Graeme Dingle Foundation deliver Kiwi Can in Rotorua. The funding will allow the organisation to plan ahead and ultimately expand the programme into other local schools.
“We’re honestly just so thrilled,” Nicola says. “Multi-year funding really does give you that sense of security. We would absolutely love to expand and this funding from BayTrust will give us the space to develop other funding streams at the same time. Just knowing you can affect change with tamariki in Rotorua is incredible.”
Numerous Rotorua schools have already expressed their desire for Kiwi Can to be offered to their students. “Unfortunately, we’ve got a lot of high social deprivation, and we have a disproportionate number of low decile schools for the size of our community.
“There are significant issues in Rotorua with family violence, suicide and gang influence so truancy rates are really high. Many young people have disruptions to their education and home lives as a result. Our programme wouldn’t be needed in an ideal world, but unfortunately at this stage this programme is very much in demand.”
The Graeme Dingle Foundation’s overall purpose is to strengthen rangatahi and tamariki and make Aotearoa the best place in the world to be a child. “By teaching these values and life skills, we want kids to recognise that there isn’t any obstacle they can’t overcome.”