Passion for people

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Passion for people Powered By Docstoc
welcome ............................................................................................................. 2
hoop dreams ...................................................................................................... 3
Paula on success ............................................................................................... 5
a broader field of vision ...................................................................................... 8
a second chance to get it right ......................................................................... 10
capturing the essence of Aotearoa................................................................... 12
forever young ................................................................................................... 18
ten years of Children‟s Day .............................................................................. 20

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                                                1
                                      Welcome to the March issue of Rise.

                                     Welcome to the first issue of Rise for 2010. The theme
                                     of this issue is „Success‟ and what success means to
                                     different people.

                                    For one person success means turning away from a life
                                    of crime to become a productive member of society, for
                                    another it means pursuing the dream of becoming a
professional basketball player. With the right attitude and an open mind, anyone can be

I hope that after reading the stories in this issue, you‟ll be inspired to achieve your   own

Finally, I want to wish you all a happy and successful 2010!

Peter Hughes
Chief Executive, Ministry of Social Development

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                      2
hoop dreams

PHILIP BALDWIN is in the middle of hurtling full speed downhill on Rotorua‟s (in)famous
luge ride, but he still manages to get to the phone and answer our call. It‟s a surprising –
  yet surprisingly apt – introduction to the up-and-coming basketball star.

A sportsman through and through, as well as a talented artist and a musician who learnt to
play the guitar by ear, 17-year-old Philip was a winner at this year‟s William Wallace Awards.

These prestigious Awards are given out annually by Child, Youth and Family to outstanding
young people in care. The awards provide scholarships to help them pursue tertiary,
vocational or leadership goals.

This year, 13 young people travelled from all around the country to attend the ceremony at
Parliament where they were presented their awards by the Minister for Social Development
and Employment, Paula Bennett. Rugby League legend Stacey Jones was there to
congratulate the young people, along with Mike Chunn, former member of iconic Kiwi band
Split Enz.

As part of the Emerging Junior Tall Blacks, Philip must surely be no stranger to such
accolades. “Actually – this was the first time I‟ve ever won an award like this; it was a big
buzz,” he says. “Just getting the letter saying that I had won was an awesome highlight.”

Julie Nicholas, who Philip refers to as „mum‟ and who has been his foster carer since he was
10 years old, says the experience was “amazing”. “Paula Bennett mentioned his name
during her speech, and you should have seen his face. I said to him it was quite an honour; it
was so cool.”

“I was so proud of him that day that I could have popped,” she laughs.

It was a significant milestone on their journey together, which began when Julie became
Philip‟s teacher aide while he was still at primary school. “We immediately hit it off,” says
Julie. Philip, who was already in foster care, was brave enough to ask Julie if he could come
and live with her. Unbeknownst to him, Julie and her husband Paul had already applied to
become his foster parents.

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                      3
The first years were not easy, and Julie says he was “just an angry, scared boy”, but she
was determined not to give up on him. “No matter how bad things get, kids need to know
that you‟re always going to be there for them. Personally, that‟s what I think fostering is all

“What has happened to these kids in the past is not their fault, but it affects their behaviour,
and it‟s not an overnight fix. They‟ll be dealing with it for years and even the rest of their
lives. That‟s why I wanted a long-term, permanent home for Philip. I really do believe that
foster parents can make a difference.”

Their special bond is summed up in a small but moving story. Julie remembers Philip asking
her one day, “Even though I‟m so naughty, why don‟t you send me away?”, and she replied,
“It‟s called unconditional love, Philip.”

“Then a week later, he was being really naughty and I was telling him off, and he turned
around to me and said, „But it‟s unconditional love, mum!‟. I couldn‟t help but laugh.”

His gift for basketball was discovered by fluke only three years ago when he was 13. He
went along to a mate‟s practice. They were short of players, so Philip was asked to give it a
go. He didn‟t even know the rules, but the coach immediately spotted his talent. This was
soon affirmed by a talent scout who said that Philip had the skills and potential to get a
scholarship and play NBA basketball in America.

While most boys dream of NBA stardom, this is a real possibility for Philip, who has been
accepted into the Emerging Junior Tall Blacks. He also represented New Zealand in the
Pacific Grand Slam, a competition between our country and states all over Australia. Philip
was in the team when New Zealand won for the first time ever.

His long-term dream is to play for the New Orleans Hornets or Orlando Magic. Yet he
says the best thing about basketball is not the sporting glory, but “the travelling and
socialising with really good people”.

And Philip will be backed all the way by his foster family, who have already spent tireless
hours fundraising and supporting his talent. They are also in the process of getting
permanent care of Philip and his four-year-old sister, so that they will always have a place to
call home.

Today, Philip – who stands at six foot two – is not only tall in stature, but also in mana. He
is described as “a natural leader”, he‟s a mentor to troubled teens, has spoken to other
young people about turning his life around, and is a coach at his old primary school. “He‟s a
gentle giant and he‟s got a very caring nature,” says Julie. “He‟s just an awesome kid and
I‟m really proud of him.”

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                        4
                                                           Paula on
                                                           When asked what „success‟
                                                           means, PAULA BENNETT‟s
                                                           response is one that will probably
                                                           resonate with many people.

                                                           “Personally I think success means
                                                           different things to different
                                                           people,” says the Minister for
                                                           Social Development and
                                                           Employment, and of Youth

                                                           It‟s a question she often fields, as
                                                           in many people‟s eyes her rise to
                                                           becoming MP for Waitakere, and
                                                           to becoming a Cabinet Minister
                                                           overseeing a $20-billion portfolio,
                                                           is a great success story.

                                                          To briefly recap, Paula was a solo
mum on the DPB, who returned to study, gained her qualifications and managed a
successful recruiting business before running for Parliament.

Despite her personal advances and high-profile position, her take on success is pretty

“I think my family and the people I love measure my success on whether I am happy.

“What other people think doesn‟t matter too much. The media judge my success on all
sorts of weird formulas that don‟t deserve too much thought, but I measure my success on
  how I treat others and my respect for other people. Success does mean different things to
different people.”

When asked how the public can measure the Government‟s success on social development,
Paula says it will be across a range of areas over the coming year.

Supporting people into jobs and having an unrelenting focus on helping people who can
work, find work is a key aim. That will be coupled with having a fair welfare system for those
who need it and providing support so people can help themselves.

Delivering targeted, efficient and effective services to those in need and making them easier
to access is paramount, while community-based services are vital cogs in getting results and
providing the support people need, as communities know what works for them.

Protecting our children and developing more opportunities for youth are the other main

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                    5
planks of successful social development, says Paula.

“Every child should have the opportunity to thrive and succeed, and it is all our responsibility
to protect children. If people can‟t protect their children, we will, while every young New
Zealander should be in work, training or education. We will not leave young people behind.”

Paula‟s passion for supporting young people and protecting children is evident by her
participation in the Vulnerable Children Programme. Acknowledging the complexity of the
prevention of child abuse and neglect, she spearheaded the Programme to get agencies to
work together and start talking about making positive changes.

One outcome of the Programme includes the Never, Ever Shake a Baby campaign, released
in early December. The multi-media campaign includes television, radio and print
advertising, as well as resource materials to teach parents and other caregivers about the
dangers of shaking a baby, as well as where to go for help when a screaming infant has
put them at wit‟s end.

“Every year around 60 babies under two are admitted to hospital, more than a third of these
babies have been shaken. Often people don‟t realise how little it takes to damage a baby‟s
brain and the devastating results of the injuries sustained,” says Paula.

Though young, the campaign has already received considerable interest: over 2,000 website
visits ( and over 70 emails less than two months after it was
launched. The website has attracted visitors from Australia, the US and the UK, a possible
sign that groups in other countries want to learn from the campaign in order to create
something similar.

Much of the campaign‟s interest has come from Government and non-Government agencies
requesting information to pass on to individuals and their families. Hospital waiting rooms are
now well-stocked with Power to Protect informational brochures that include a helpline phone
number for stressed parents and caregivers to call when they‟re at risk of shaking their baby.
By mid-January, five phone calls had come in from people in crisis – that‟s five babies whose
parents have learned to ask for help as a result of the campaign.

Paula has been involved with the campaign from the beginning, gladly calling upon ideas
from experts to make the campaign, and the Vulnerable Children Programme as a whole,
as meaningful as it can be.

“I am calling on every New Zealander to play a role in protecting our vulnerable children,”
she says.

Nearly every day the proud `Westie‟ is asked about her decision and motives for wading into
politics, and her reasons shed more light on what success means to her.

Believing she owed it to herself and the people she cared about, and knowing she had the
ability to do a good job, were key drivers.

“Your success is your own. It is deeply personal and I choose to ignore the strangers with
shallow measures.

“But I do challenge New Zealanders to find their own success. Is it in being the best parent
you can be, in loving and caring for others, in helping others and being respectful, in

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                     6
pushing yourself and discovering new possibilities? Whatever it is, go for it.”

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                        7
                                                                     a broader
                                                                     field of
                                                                     It only takes five minutes of
                                                                     talking with MICHAEL
                                                                     ERASMUS to feel the
                                                                     passion he has for his work.
                                                                     Making pies and running his
                                                                     business brings him the
                                                                     kind of excitement and
                                                                     happiness that many can
                                                                     only imagine.

The 23-year-old doesn‟t let the fact that he‟s almost completely blind get in the way of
pursuing his dreams and fulfilling his goals.

“I‟ve never really doubted what I was doing. I didn‟t let fear get in the way – it‟s just getting
out there and doing it,” he says. “I think anyone is successful if they just try at something.
   Even if it doesn‟t work, you‟re successful if you try. I thought trying this out was better than
just sitting at home. I could put myself to something and see what happened. Sometimes
you just have to get on with it.”

Michael‟s deep connection with his senses is proof that anyone can experience „sight‟ in
perfect clarity. Listening to him talk about the “beautiful golden of the pastry” and the “rich,
aromatic sauces”, you‟d think that sight is an afterthought to being a chef; his attuned
senses make him something of a pie artist instead.

After graduating with a New Zealand Certificate in Patisseries and Certificate in Professional
Cookery – the first blind person to do so – Michael made it his mission to create gourmet
pies. Steering clear of mass-made batches and generic ingredients is what Michael
believes make his pies so special. Artificial ingredients are shunned, and the pastry is made
from scratch. He spends a lot of time perfecting the recipes, and of course, has some fun
taste-testing along the way.

“My favourite to make are the steak pies. There are so many ways to make them, like
steak and kidney, and steak and mushroom. The sauces that they‟re made with are really
good,” he says.

“Yes, those are the ones I like to eat too,” he adds, laughing.

Crediting his family with some of the gruntier tasks involved with getting a restaurant off the
ground – moving boxes, heavy lifting – Michael also recognises the New Zealand community
as being supportive of his success. He wonders if this venture may have worked elsewhere.
  “This is a great country that allows people like me to do these sorts of things,” he says.

When broached with the idea that his blindness may have held him back in any way, Michael
Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                        8
responds with an assertive “No”.    If anything, he‟s found opportunity in it.

“Because of my blindness, I‟ve had the media interested in hearing my story. That attention
has brought in more business, and made more people interested in what I‟m doing with the

The New Zealand Foundation of the Blind helped initiate the shop‟s media exposure. The
Foundation‟s annual Blind Week Appeal newsletter featured Michael‟s story, along with other
extraordinary New Zealanders who haven‟t let their loss of vision hold them back from
grabbing all that life has to offer. The Foundation equips its over 11,000 members with
adaptive technology and training to help them achieve their dreams and live independent

“Like so many of our members, Michael‟s story is remarkable,” says Kelly Hawkins, the
Foundation‟s communications manager. “He‟s not letting a disability stop him from being the
best that he can be, and that‟s so important.”

Though impressive, Kelly doesn‟t think Michael‟s story is at all surprising. “So many
members have absolutely incredible stories that are motivational, inspirational and
humbling. We work with people who are hugely successful – world champion athletes,
 wine makers, endurance athletes.”

Success to some means having the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. The Foun-dation‟s
work, empowering, and supporting blind and partially-sighted New Zealanders, helps make
sure they have the same opportunities and choices as everyone else. By providing
essential skills to help them move safely and confidently in the community, the Foundation
helps visually-impaired people thrive in the workforce and manage independently with
everyday tasks.

Some everyday tasks are more challenging than others, as Michael wields knives with a
flourish to create his delicious pastries and sauces. Though doing so is obviously more
difficult for him than a seeing person, it‟s not something that would ever hold him back.

So what advice does Michael have for others who want to make a go of it? “Sometimes it‟s
just as simple as making a phone call to get started. The important thing is that you‟re doing
something. It‟s important that if you have a good idea, you follow it through and don‟t just
keep it in your head.”

Michael shows that it‟s possible for everyone, no matter their circumstances, to live life in
 vivid colour.

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                      9
a second chance to get it right
                                                             Prisoner reintegration is a serious
                                                             issue facing New Zealand

                                                             Startlingly, 29 per cent of the 56
                                                             inmates released into the
                                                             community each week will be
                                                             back in prison inside of two
                                                             years, while 66 per cent will
                                                             have reoffended during that
                                                             same period.

                                                             Prisoner reintegration
                                                             programmes like Operation
                                                             Jericho are on the frontline to
                                                             help the newly released take
                                                             those important first steps from
                                                             inmate to citizen. They do so by
                                                             promoting old school values,
                                                             rebuilding family relationships
and stressing the value      of employment.

With a strong emphasis on one-on-one support, Operation Jericho matches trained mentors
from local communities with inmates from Rimutaka Prison six to eight months before their
release date.

Mentors are encouraged to do away with the traditional model of case worker–client
relationships, and concentrate on engaging with inmates on a personal level. Once an
inmate is released they are not required to stay in touch with their mentor, but some form
lasting relationships and continue contact well after their release date.

“I am still in touch with my mentor now,” says Bill*, a former Rimutaka inmate who has been
helped by Operation Jericho. “If you need somebody to talk to, he‟s always there and it has
kept me on the straight and narrow. He comes around to talk to me and we have cups of
tea. He‟s a really good friend.”

Operation Jericho recognises that the first two months after release are crucial if an inmate
is to be effectively reintegrated into their community. Operation Jericho staff work with other
community groups, such as the Salvation Army, to ensure that inmates have a stable living
environment when they are released.

“Operation Jericho helped to set me up for when I was released,” says Bill. “They put me in
touch with the Salvation Army so that when I left prison I went straight into accommodation.”

Newly released prisoners can spend up to three months in the Salvation Army supported
accommodation before completing their transition into free society. Some need the full term,
while others like Bill have been able to make the move in a much shorter period of time,
thanks to the support they receive through reintegration programs like Operation Jericho –
and their own hard work.

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                    10
“You get three months with the Salvation Army,” says Bill. “Three months to sort yourself out
with a place to stay and a job. I did it in three weeks.”

There is also a strong focus on helping inmates into work or training as soon as possible.
Work and Income plays an integral part in this process through the Offender Reintegration
Programme, a joint initiative with the Department of Corrections. Gaining employment is a
vital part of a prisoner‟s reintegration, giving them a sense of control over their lives and
helping them shed the old ties which led them to crime in the first place.

Work and Income case managers work closely with newly released prisoners, helping them
with employment and training opportunities and any other assistance they need to get back
into the workforce. “I worked with my Work and Income case officer to find a course,” says
Bill. “We looked at New Zealand Welding School and they were able to help with funding for
the course.”

A welder in another life, Bill excelled in the Tawa-based welding course. “The guys at the
Tawa Welding School are awesome,” he says. “I ended up getting eight welding tickets, and
two weeks after that, I got a job in the construction industry.”

Bill has worked hard to make his new start in life a success, and he is thankful for the help
he received from his Work and Income case worker. “He helped me out with transport and
work clothes, everything I need to get back to work.”

Bill has had a couple of construction jobs since then, and despite the uncertainty of working
in the construction industry, he is upbeat about future job prospects.

“I just finished my last job last week and will pick up another job early in the New Year,” he
says. “It can be hard as construction jobs only run until the job is finished, and then you have
to find more work. But to tell you the truth, I‟ve really had no problem, I‟ve found work.”

Good family relationships are another important aspect of successful reintegration.
According to Operation Jericho, 50 per cent of all inmates have marital or partnership
breakups while in prison, and the relationships that do last are usually rocky by the time an
inmate has completed their sentence. To help smooth the waters, Operation Jericho staff
and the inmate‟s mentor identify qualified relationship counsellors to support the couple or
family through this difficult period.

While Operation Jericho has helped guide Bill, there can be no doubt that the majority of his
success since being released from Rimutaka is due to his own hard work and willingness to
change. He is a great example of what a person can do when they put their mind to it,
regardless of their background.

“I really didn‟t want to go back to prison again, so I put myself forward, and went forward,”
says Bill.

“I‟m back with my family and it‟s rolling along so nicely. I‟m looking forward to the future, I‟m
not looking in the past anymore.”

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                      11
capturing the essence of
                                                                   Contrary to sceptical words
                                                                   spoken years ago, publisher
                                                                   ROBYN BARGH now finds
                                                                   herself waking up in
                                                                   Dinosaur Land, banishing
                                                                   fairy women for a family‟s
                                                                   sake, and finding miracles in
                                                                   a child‟s mud pie.

                                                                   It‟s all part of the job since
                                                                   she founded Huia
                                                                   Publishers in 1991. She had
                                                                   no expectations for financial
                                                                   success when she began –
                                                                   her intentions ran deeper
                                                                   than that. She wanted to
                                                                   provide the world with a
                                                                   snapshot of the culture she
                                                                   knew growing up. She
                                                                   would measure Huia‟s
                                                                   success by what others
                                                                   would gain.

                                                                   “I felt that New Zealand
                                                                   literature was too narrow. I
                                                                   grew up in a small Mäori
                                                                   community near Rotorua,
                                                                   and I felt that the books I
                                                                   was reading didn‟t have
                                                                   anything about the people I
                                                                   knew, the places I knew, the
                                                                   kinds of things we were
                                                                   involved with, the kind of
concerns we had. Instead, I was reading about people in Africa or people in India, ”she
says. “As I was reading about these places, I felt like you could get a real essence of the
country. In a lot of those books, you could feel like you were there. You could feel the heat
and rain, you could smell the curries cooking, and you could really feel the relationships
between the people because of the dialogue and the way they expressed themselves so

“I just feel that there‟s a lot happening in New Zealand, and we‟re not really getting the
essence of the country.”

Since she wasn‟t finding it, Robyn set out to create it. She wanted to depict a fair
representation of the people of Aotearoa, to add the human element to a multi-cultural
country. By adding new perspectives to common human conditions – facing challenges,
  sharing in joy and hope – Robyn was hoping to portray the soul of New Zealand society to

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                    12
the world at large.

Once she got started, Robyn was met with a rather cynical response from New Zealand‟s
book industry. Focussing only on one part of what Huia represents, they argued that Mäori
don‟t buy books, and that others who had tried something similar in the publishing industry
 had failed.

Despite those pessimistic words, Robyn definitely wasn‟t going to throw in the towel before
giving it an honest shot. “I was pretty certain that it wasn‟t going to be that hopeless. You‟ve
just got to think: What is the problem? I thought it would take hard work, but I was prepared
to do that.

“I wasn‟t going to be put off by people who, I felt, hadn‟t given it a fair go. If it was coming
from someone who had really tried hard to do this, who had invested all their money and
worked really hard for a few years and it hadn‟t worked, I might have thought differently.
  But these were people who were just saying that, based on mild observation. I thought,
  nah, you‟ve got to give it a decent go. There‟s so much to gain.”

With a lofty dream firmly in mind, all she needed to make her vision complete was a bit of
confidence. She found it in her years of experience producing publications for the

“The technical part of publishing I knew about. I knew how to put a book together, so I was
confident in that part of it. In terms of the content, I had a picture of the kinds of books I‟d
like to see on my shelf.”

Armed with equal parts vision, creativity, and careful planning, Robyn forged ahead.

“I had a bit of apprehension maybe,” Robyn says, when asked if she was fearful about
turning her vision into a reality. “The funny thing is, what you don‟t know doesn‟t hurt you; I
was probably a bit naïve. But I wasn‟t that worried because I thought if it all turned to
custard I could always go back and get a job doing what I was doing before.

[The thought of starting this] was more exciting and just fun.”

More than 15 years in, her work at Huia continues to excite Robyn. Whether it‟s meeting with
new writers or taking the first look at a book still hot from printing, the energy that Robyn
feels from being in the publishing industry helps keep her going.

“I just got a book this morning, and we‟re having a little blessing for it next week. I still get a
sense of joy at seeing them [the new books] and knowing what‟s gone in to it to make that
book. Going around the country and meeting people who‟ve read our books and say, „I‟ve
read this and I‟ve read that‟ is really inspiring.”

As much as she still gets a thrill from being an integral part of creating quality fiction, non-
fiction and Mäori resource material, Robyn feels that her team still has a way to go. One of
the reasons Robyn loves publishing so much is its dynamic nature. Whereas some retail
shops can hit a point where growth is no longer exciting, Robyn feels that when it comes to
publishing, the sky‟s the limit.

“I think for what we‟re doing, the road seems to be very, very long. There‟s a lot to do, and a
long way to go. We‟ve just got to keep going.”

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                         13
Aside from adding a fresh Mäori and Pacific perspective to the world‟s collection of literature,
a core component of Huia‟s work is in promoting new writers, and sharing in their success.
That is why, since 1995, Huia has held the biennial Pikihuia Awards.

The Pikihuia Awards attract aspiring Mäori writers to submit their film scripts, short stories or
novel extracts for judging. Since its inception, submissions have nearly tripled.

“One of the winners this year was Tina Makereti who recently won the Bill Manhire non-
fiction writing award. You just think – there you go! And we‟re about to publish a book of
hers. Pretty exciting.”

When asked if success, in her own terms – getting new writers on board, continuing to
publish quality books – means more to her than piles full of money, Robyn answers with a
simple: “Much more.”

“For me, the success is in the writers and the books. Most people‟s interpretation of success
is if you‟re a millionaire. For me, that‟s not necessarily success. That‟s not the point of what
we‟re trying to achieve. So, are we successful in terms of what we‟re trying to achieve? Yes.

“We‟re in business, so we have to be reasonably financially successful, in that we have to
make enough money to keep going. But that‟s not the main point of the business. It is
important and we certainly have to watch our finances, but that‟s just to keep us going.
That‟s not the main objective.”

Robyn‟s fulfilment comes from doing something she loves – and she‟s not the only one.
“We‟ve got 20 people who work here. They‟re here because they like what they‟re doing.
They believe in what we‟re doing.”

And others believe in them, as well. When asked from where she draws inspiration,
Robyn‟s intelligent brown eyes shine and a smile lights up her face.

“Children. Seeing children reading our books is one of the most exciting things you can think

Children sometimes visit Huia for a sneak preview of their latest books, or even to act as
discriminating book reviewers. Robyn laughs as she explains that asking a room full of
  eight-year-olds for their opinion can elicit some pretty clever responses, and some very
  honest feedback.

“One of my greatest joys at the moment is my two grandchildren. One is a baby and one          is
nearly two. It‟s amazing how clear they are, at two, about what they like and what they
don‟t like.”

Based on her grandson‟s „critiques‟, Robyn is getting a better and better idea of what works
for kids‟ books, and what doesn‟t. His feedback has helped develop her thinking about
finding the essence of a good book, particularly in the Mäori language.

“Having close contact with young children helps make clear what the essence is of a good
book. We need to learn from books in English and convert it to our books in Mäori.”

Capturing the essence of a good book takes more than simple translation: it‟s about
identifying the characteristics that make them good. She‟s discovered that, for kids, the use

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                    14
of language is one of those characteristics.

“One of the books I‟ve been reading to my grandson lately is called We‟re Going on a Bear
Hunt. One of the lines goes: „Uh-oh, we‟re going through grass. Long, swishy grass. We
can‟t go over it, can‟t go under it, have to go through it. Swishy, swashy, swishy, swashy‟.
These are the kinds of patterns and uses of language that the kids love. They love
alliterations like „swishy, swashy‟, which are not actual words, of course.”

It‟s obvious that a well-rounded and open-minded approach to publishing books is at Huia‟s
heart. Sharing perspectives and ideas, regardless of age or background, allows them to
capture an honest representation of the essence that Robyn so adamantly seeks.

Sitting in the Huia board room, amidst Huia‟s many awards and books published, it‟s safe
to say that Robyn has gained what she was after. “We‟ve published hundreds of books and
hundreds of resources in Mäori language. Not to say it‟s easy – it isn‟t. It‟s hard work.”

Hard work, sure, but it‟s for a greater cause. By sharing perspectives and experiences, we‟re
tied together as humans, rather than separated across continents.

Huia isn‟t just sharing books with   New Zealanders – they‟re being shared with   the world


Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                15
                                               from the front
                                               CHRIS PICKERING talks about the newly
                                               created role of Child, Youth and Family (CYF)
                                               senior advisor to the regional operations

                                               How did you come to be in your current
                                                 I came to New Zealand with my partner in
                                                 2002 from Manchester, United Kingdom. I
                                                 worked in the statutory child protection arena
                                                 for eight years in the UK, both in residential
                                                 and fieldwork services, as a social worker and
                                                 as a team manager. I started at CYF in 2002,
                                                 moving around the country in a variety of
                                                 roles, even including occasional stints as
                                                 acting operations manager. In 2008 I accepted
                                                 a 12-month secondment as site manager in
Invercargill, and late last year, returned to Nelson to take up my current role. I am now senior
advisor to the operations manager for the Upper South area of CYF.

The most important thing I‟ve learned is the value of communication. I‟ve also learned how
important it is to develop meaningful relationships, work at continually improving
performance and have strong leadership.

What are your priorities in this role?
It‟s about influencing change. We‟re here to support and advise the operations manager
across a range of activities and communities. We also respond to the activities and priorities
defined in our strategic work plan. This includes promoting quality social work with a focus
on supporting frontline staff; working with NGOs, and education and health sectors to help
children and their families; and responding to community expectations.

I want the public to recognise CYF as a service that is passionate about, and advocates for,
  the welfare of children and young people. I want to promote the communities‟
understanding of CYF, and be seen as a service that delivers on its promises.

How do you see it strengthening the frontline?
The new focus should improve stakeholder relationships by teaming up with our government
and community partners to enhance the standard of service, in particular with regards to the
children and young people in our care. There is an old saying that goes, “It takes a village
to raise a child” – teaming up is our version of that village.

I‟m here to make sure that our region performs at its best. This includes checking our overall
performance results; reviewing our practices, especially around complex cases, to make
sure we did everything right; and supporting our frontline workers by offering guidance
Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                   16
around what we do and the way we do it. I also track complaints and enquiries to find
emerging trends, and work with our teams to address them.

What are the role‟s highlights so far?
Returning home to Nelson and putting my own stamp on this role. It‟s also been exciting to
participate in several key multiagency forums, working with colleagues from Work and
Income, DHB, Police, Women‟s Refuge, Probation, Heartlands, local iwi, Salvation Army,
Presbyterian Support and Plunket. We work together to creatively achieve our goals.

There is a lot of energy within this group. We come together to share ideas and make things

How will you achieve success in your role?
Our success will be judged by those we work alongside, namely children and their families,
and other government and community organisations. Our success is based on theirs

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                               17
                                                  forever young
                                                  If tenacity is a measure of success, then
                                                  ROGER EVISON has it in spades.

                                                  In 1994, a sprightly 73-year-old Roger
                                                  caught the Children‟s Day bug after
                                                  hearing the first Children‟s Commissioner,
                                                  Ian Hassall, talking to Radio New Zealand
                                                  about a serious increase in child abuse.
                                                  The commissioner was discussing a
                                                  United Nations‟ resolution encouraging
                                                  countries to have special days to celebrate
                                                  children, and how this would be one way of
                                                  reducing abuse.

                                                  That‟s when his tenacity kicked in, and
                                                  Roger joined the Children‟s Day National
                                                  Steering Group (NSG). He, along with a
                                                  mix of service groups, NGOs and
                                                  government agencies, helped orchestrate
                                                  a plan to guide the inaugural Children‟s
                                                  Day, and plan for the celebration‟s future.
                                                  The year 2010 marks the tenth
                                                  celebration of Children‟s Day in New
                                                  Zealand, and 16 years later, now 89 years
                                                  of age, Roger is still part of it.

“From the beginning, I thought a day of this kind should be led by the community,” he says.
“With backup from my Rotary Club, we approached every national NGO in New Zealand
that had children as a focus, and prepared a proposal that was supported by the Board of
the Rotary Club of Wellington.” Roger is the Club‟s longest-serving member, as well as its

By 1995, his proposal was ready to be shown to government. It took several years of quiet
reminders, and many phone calls, but by 1998 the then Minister of Youth Affairs Roger
McLay became enthusiastic about the idea and took a proposal to Cabinet. MP Tony Ryall
also came on board, and soon New Zealand had the beginnings of a plan to hold an annual
day to celebrate children.

Roger McLay, in his role as the Commissioner for Children, saw New Zealand‟s first
Children‟s Day on Sunday, 29 October 2000. In 2007, the celebration moved to the first
Sunday in March, as it was originally intended. It is now marked by a suite of cartoon
characters: Ben, Jess, Rua, Kate and dog Patch.

Since the NSG has been in existence, Child, Youth and Family has become its main
implementation agency. By 2005, baseline government funding was secured to help promote
the event, as well as many child-friendly resources associated with it.

Roger has been the NSG‟s most consistent member. A father of three and granddad to nine,
he has a keen interest in Children‟s Day‟s ongoing success and that key points of his original
proposal continue to be honoured. The key points outlined in the Children‟s Day charter
Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                    18
include: ensuring the day promotes community ownership and widespread participation;
promoting a national focus on children; heightening awareness of the importance and needs
of children; motivating New Zealand society at all levels to appreciate and support children;
and doing so in a non-commercial way.

“I have seen this national day have its ups and downs, but for the last four years I have
noticed a steady increase in awareness and involvement by communities in the Day,” says
Roger. He admits that his inspiration for continuing to keep involved in Children‟s Day was
the impact that the Radio NZ interview had on him in 1994. “I eventually met Ian Hassall
to talk to him about ideas for the Day,” reminisces Roger.

A website ( provides event organisers with information, a place to
register their event and free resources to distribute at events for the tenth anniversary
(Sunday, 7 March 2010). An estimated hundreds of thousands of Kiwis will be there to
celebrate: from attending New Zealand‟s largest event, the Toddler Day Out and Great
  Parenting Fair in West Auckland, through to small whänau gatherings.

For a retired civil engineer, Roger Evison has not been shy about engineering a great
 future for New Zealand‟s children. His wife, actress Dame Pat Evison, describes her first
meeting with her husband of 61 years as thinking about him as „just driving trains, which
was quite wrong‟.

Little did she know he would become famous for driving the history of New Zealand, as the
catalyst for the country‟s Children‟s Day.

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                   19
ten years of Children’s Day
Success is creating a great start in life for our nation‟s children. The five key messages
underpinning Children‟s Day in New Zealand are all about nurturing the brilliance of children
in simple ways – by spending time together; by giving praise, encouragement, love and
affection; by listening and talking; and by sharing new experiences.

Rise Issue 10 – March 2010                                                                 20
Rise Issue 10 – March 2010   21

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