Waikato Wellbeing Project Lots of Little Fires

Rainbow Hub Waikato…a place to be yourself.

“I mean, if you could imagine only having a couple of hours a week where you can be yourself completely yourself and not have to worry about what people might think about that or what people might say to you. It's what most of our community goes through on a day-to-day basis, except that they don't have a couple of hours every day. They have maybe an hour every week where they can be themselves. So that's why we exist. It's to provide that hour or provide those couple of hours because otherwise what have you got?”

Creating the right atmosphere and environment is key for making a pace feel like home, to feel like a place where we can fully relax and be calm.

The rooms and vibe of Rainbow Hub Waikato have such a calming and homely feel that it is easy to drop your guard and just chill.

Rangi Hetet and the Takeover Challenge

"I want to empower women to stand up, to be the change, to be the light for their families, that they don't have to do it alone, that there is a way out. That's what I want to do. That's why I box."

“We don't know, it's called unworthy. All we know is that we're alone, but we don't get it because there's everyone around us. It's like, why do I feel like this? So yeah, helping moms to be the light and to be the change … that's how I believe I can impact or how I can contribute, is by helping our mums to respect themselves, love themselves, and put themselves first.

We've believed for a long time that everyone else should come before us and I was always someone that put everyone before me. Now I get it. I get like, man, I look after me and I honor me, I have so much more to give. But if I'm too busy giving to everybody else and I'm empty, I can only give empty. So yeah, I like to help our moms to give back to themselves so that they have something to give.”

Breaking cycles and changing lives in Raahui Pookeka Huntly

Raahui Pookeka Huntly's very own Hiki te-tapu Haunui, a dedicated youth mentor and Director of Alternative Education, has been acknowledged for his exceptional commitment to empowering young people through a recent story featured in "Lots of Little Fires." This inspiring story, shared through the Waikato Wellbeing Project, highlights Hiki's transformative work in Raahui Pookeka, Huntly, New Zealand.

The story delves into Hiki's journey from a small-town upbringing to becoming a beacon of hope for local rangatahi, connecting with their struggles and helping them find their way to a brighter future.

Described as "the man" by his students, Hiki's influence reaches far beyond the classroom. His unique approach to mentoring and education combines holistic learning with the teaching of essential life skills, drawing on his own experiences to relate to the challenges his students face.

As an accomplished kickboxer and fighter, Hiki has introduced his students to physical activities that promote mental and physical well-being, contributing to their self-confidence and a sense of achievement. He also emphasizes the importance of nurturing practical skills and understanding the trades industry, aiming to set his students on a path toward secure and fulfilling employment opportunities.

Twenty 20 Sustainable Housing

With a mission to empower individuals and families to break free from the cycle of homelessness, Twenty 20 Sustainable Housing is redefining the way transitional housing is offered and experienced.

“It takes a village to raise a child… so we built a damn good village”.

It is hard to capture what makes a place feel special. What makes a home a home? For some it might be the location, the buildings or the natural environment that surrounds it. For others, and always for me, it is the people. Caring, funny and inspiring people who allow others to simply be themselves, to express without judgement, to feel a safe and strong sense of belonging and to feel at peace. These are the people who make others feel special, encourage them to grow and to feel like they matter…because the truth is, we all matter, and we all have something special to share no matter who we are and where we come from. We all deserve a home like Twenty 20.

He Puaawai - Flipping the script on what it means to be a young parent

A place where brave young parents, who face incredible challenges every single day, are choosing to flip the script and be the inspiring change they want to see in the world. We welcome you to meet the young parents at He Puaawai Teen Parent Unit.

The first thing you notice about He Puaawai is that the negative stereotyping, so often inflicted on teen parents, is totally dismissed and flipped on its head. The young parents here are nurtured to embody a deep sense of self and an immense pride for who they are, what they stand for and what they are working towards.

“We actively reject the concept of second chance education or second chance learning here because every young person in Aotearoa New Zealand has a right to an education” says Gill Cotter, He Puaawai Curriculum leader. “We provide a full NCEA educational pathway for young people wishing to continue their high school education whilst they're hapu or after their babies have been born.”

Transforming Lives through Sports: Thomas Nabbs and The Waterboy's Inspiring Story

Lots of Little Fires is thrilled to share the remarkable story of Thomas Nabbs, the founder and director of The Waterboy with Lugtons and Taku Wairua.

Lots of Little Fires is thrilled to share the remarkable story of Thomas Nabbs, the founder and director of The Waterboy with Lugtons and Taku Wairua.

The organisation aims to provide equitable access to sporting opportunities and personal development for young individuals who face challenges due to their environment. This heart-warming story highlights the transformative power of knowledge, identity, and support in shaping the lives of young people.

"By passing down stories and lessons from one generation to another, we can help young people develop a sense of pride in their heritage and build a strong foundation for their future."

Aunty to the Hood.... Celebrating Shani

Shani's story embodies the importance of mentorship, returning to one's roots, and overcoming adversity, serving as an inspiration for rangatahi and wahine in the Waikato region.

From a tender age, Shani found solace and passion on the golf course, often accompanying her grandparents and caddying for them. With unwavering support from her Koko and her Nan, Shani's natural talent flourished, leading to numerous victories and recognition within the sport. Her name prominently displayed at the Clubhouse stands as a testament to her early success and her grandparents' dreams of her becoming a golf star.

However, when Shani turned 14, she started to rebel, and her interest in golf began to fade. The allure of mischief and excitement from the crowds she associated with drew her attention away from the sport and the stable life that surrounded it. This marked a significant turning point in Shani's journey, leading her down a path that would test her resilience and ultimately shape her into the strong, inspiring, and caring wahine she is today.

Takoha Puoro - The Gift of Music

“They see how they can be a part of music in the simplest of ways. Being part of something bigger than themselves in an atmosphere that brings energy and positivity allows them to experience success and what it feels like to be valued and appreciated by others."

"The skills they learn build their confidence and they celebrate their successes together. For many, this is the only celebration and positive praise they receive in their lives and so the importance of this is in building their self-worth is priceless.”

The programme, Takoha Puoro, which means the ‘gift of music’, is a beautiful example of local business, school alumni and community combining their efforts and skills to help re-engage students back into education. It has seen the music facility of Fairfield College transformed into a professional and inspiring place where the students feel they belong and are valued.

The programme is facilitated by Jamey Ferguson, a well-known and respected industry expert. Known for his incredible musical talent, and as a member of the legendary reggae band Katchafire, Jamey has toured extensively around the world and performed at some of the biggest music festivals.

Meeting Daniel Ormsby

“The Red Shed is about art. The main one is Māori art because that's what I do but it's all art forms. It came about primarily from growth. It is a space where anyone, no matter who you are, can come and do art."

Even the drive down to Waitomo felt somehow magical…Early evening light cascading off the fields, hills and trees releasing a million shades of spectacular colours and moods spreading a welcome calmness around and within us.

Daniel Ormsby and I first got to know each other through video call, that no longer new, and now weirdly comfortable post covid whakawhanaungatanga phenomena. I had previously shared the Lots of little Fires kaupapa with Daniel via email. To my relief and excitement, he was instantly curious and keen to get involved. With a shared sense of humour and a mutual recognition for each other's kōrero and mahi, it led to a natural trust and child-like excitement to meet in person. 

Poutama Rites of Passage

‘The fire is a living example… a subtle way of building a sense of collective responsibility and pride…’

Poutama Rites of Passage was born out of Whaingaroa in 2015. It is the vision of youth worker, Tiaki Coates (Ngāi Tahu), who felt called to explore what a community-led initiation for tama to transition into manhood would look like in a Te Ao Māori way.

Seven years later and with numerous rites of Passage successfully completed, the kaupapa is thriving and fluidly evolving to suit the needs of the communities it exists to serve.