Statistics released in 2016 by New Zealand Treasury indicate that in South Auckland communities like Manurewa and Papakura, the future looks bleak for 1 out of 4 children aged 14 and under.
That’s no surprise to Shawn Reddy, General Manager of Christian faith-based charity Te Whakaora Tangata (Life Restoration for the People). The organisation has issued a challenge to all Kiwi families to help break intergenerational cycles of family dysfunction in South Auckland. Happening on November 4th and 5th, Te Whakaora Tangata’s R3 Challenge is a “triathlon with a twist”. Participants row, ride (cycle) or run a total distance of 100km (or less if they choose) over a weekend, to raise funds to help restore, resource and reconnect South Auckland’s most at-risk families.
Te Whakaora Tanagata works with parents struggling with complex issues such as family violence, addictions, depression, criminal activity, and welfare dependency.
“Most of the whanau we work with have been physically and/or sexually abused, have court cases pending and/or have had children removed from their care,” says Mr Reddy.
Established as a charitable trust in 2010, Te Whakaora Tanagata supports 150-175 new, high-risk parents every year, directly impacting 300-400 vulnerable children. Their work is anchored in the facilitation of coaching to restore emotional well-being and critical family relationships in order to build resilience in the whanau, explains Mr Reddy…
Our work is focussed around three R’s – restoring relationships by addressing past trauma, resourcing parents with tools to live well; and reconnecting people with opportunities to study, work and give back to their community. So many families in this community are trapped in a cycle of dysfunction that is handed down from one generation to the next.
Te Whakaora Tangata is working hard to break those cycles, but ultimately credit God for the healing and transformation they see in people’s lives. “We are not your typical social service agency,” says Mr Reddy. “The gospel message is at the core of our work and relationships, and we rely completely on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to restore these families – spirit, soul and body.”
The positive results of Te Whakaora’s programmes are hard to overlook, with many current and former clients openly sharing their stories of transformation.
“I recently came back to my family after being missing for a long time. I was hard out into drugs and lived the street life. I’ve tried anything and everything, but this is the only programme that’s every helped me,” says a Mother from Manurewa.
“Our son got taken off us so that’s why we’re here. We went to heaps of places to find a programme like Te Whakaora’s. We’re learning new ways to deal with things so we don’t have to hurt our kids,” says a South Auckland Father of three.
Since 2010, Te Whakaora has impacted more than 1,000 families, representing well over 2,000 vulnerable children.
“We’re aware that as a direct result of this work, over 100 suicides and thousands of domestic violence incidents have been prevented. 75% of our clients are off class ‘A’ drugs and more than 800 families are no longer considered high-risk. In other words, parents are now creating a stable home life for their children,” says Mr Reddy.
“The R3 Challenge is something all New Zealanders can participate in to help address the social issues which are so widely reported in the media,” says Mr Reddy. “One small charity, one church, one family, one person…can and does make a difference. The R3 Challenge is a wonderful opportunity to help disadvantaged parents take positive steps toward a better future.”
For more information about the Te Whakaora Tangata R3 Challenge, to register yourself or a team, or to donate… visit www.r3challenge.org.nz