Growing future leaders in Wairoa

A Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust youth programme in partnership with the Wairoa Young Achievers Trust (WYAT) is unearthing future community leaders.

Each fortnight over 30 year 7 and 8 students from Wairoa College are put through their paces in a range of physical and outdoor learning experiences that aims to help them reach their potential, both as they move through high school and beyond.

Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust programme lead Raun Makirere-Haerewa says the goal of WYAT Aspiring Leaders Programme is to ensure their overall wellbeing, develop leadership qualities, physical abilities and cultural identity and to make a positive difference for the youth and the community.

Raun says success is based on students developing resilience and strong communication skills that can be put to good use at home, school, in sport and out in the community.

During the school Raun either drives up to Wairoa to work with the students or they make the journey down to experience the awesome facilities at the community fitness centre and Mitre 10 Park.

They are in awe of the facility here in Hastings when they come down for the first time. They get a real buzz out of the experience each time they return. Being able to use all of the facilities such as the high performance gym, athletics track and indoor sports hall.

The programme has been running for five years, initially physical performance based and delivered to senior students. However many senior students had already developed habits that were harder to change, so the programme pivoted to being delivered to younger and newer students at high school.

“Year 7, 8 and 9 students are more moldable and if we identify leadership traits earlier then they have a much greater chance of success as they move into the senior years at high school.

Wairoa Young Achievers Trust manager Denise Eaglesome-Karekare adds that other measures of success has been exposing rangatahi to role models, their own self development and a high performance facility.

“I think having people like Raun and Joe and their team identifying those rangatahi that strive to reach their true potential is what is important in this programme and as we fund the programme in its entirety we will also support those individuals who do reach that potential financially,” she says.

One of the first tests that students are put through in selection to the programme is the Bronco test, which is what the All Blacks use to measure fitness.

Raun says the Bronco, which is a gut busting time based run of 20, 40 and 60 metres performed five times, not only shows those that are physically fit but also uncovers leadership attributes as well as resilience.

“There are those that will stand out for their fitness, but there will also be those that tough it out and don’t give up.  There will be others that motivate and support their peers that are finding it tough.”

As well as fitness, other parts of the programme include nutrition and building a He Maara Kai (a food garden) at the school.

“They get as much pride in growing kai for their whanau as they do in some of the physical activities.  They learn to plant, nurture and grow healthy kai and that’s incredibly rewarding for them to see that if you look after something, it prospers.”