BY ATHOL OWENS
For those of you who are old enough, you may recall the divisions created in New Zealand society as a result of the 1981 Springbok Tour.
I had several mates watching the game inside Eden Park while another good friend was outside demonstrating with the protestors against the apartheid regime in South Africa. The Police were caught in the middle as the situation deteriorated when groups of youths joined in the fracas destroying people’s property.
A few years later, a good friend and client of mine, Malcolm Hood, who was the All Blacks physiotherapist at the time, got together a group of people representing rugby, senior Police and commerce. As a consequence, a trust was formed with a view to healing some of the wounds that appeared on that fateful day.
The Decision Reachout (Toro Mai) Trust is based in Auckland, Hamilton and the Bay of Plenty and the Trustees work with a number of schools to identify young people that may have leadership qualities who would benefit by participating in a leadership course which takes place at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Tongariro National Park, Turangi. These students would not otherwise have the opportunity.
Once the students are identified by the schools and the Trustees, they are interviewed by the Trustees and advised that they have been chosen to receive a leadership award and their achievement is celebrated at an awards ceremony which is held at the prestigious Barbarians Rugby Club at Eden Park. At the function, the students are awarded their certificates of achievement, meet students from the other schools attending the course and listen to various guest speakers which last year included the All Black great, Bryan Williams and the Minister of Police, the Honourable Michael Woodhouse and His Honour Judge Gerard Winter.
The function is attended by members of the student’s families and school representatives.
Each year, approximately thirty students from three Auckland schools travel to Turangi for the week’s course which includes skiing, snowboarding, caving, tramping, abseiling etc. The students learn to work together as a team to enable them to achieve certain challenges put forward to them by their instructors. The impact on students’ lives are significant and we have witnessed a number of students go on to achieve goals that they would not have otherwise reached had they not participated in this leadership course.
Funding the course is always a challenge and more recently, a number of our clients have expressed an interest and now sponsor a student through the course which is at a cost of about $1,000. I can say that this is an extremely good investment as the $1,000 initial outlay results in a $333 charitable tax rebate to the donor so the Government funds a third and the donor the other two thirds. There are no administration costs incurred so 100% of the donation is applied to the course for the benefit of the students.
The real reward is witnessing the positive change that takes place in many of the students’ lives as a result of participating in the leadership course.
If anybody is interested in sponsoring a student, please feel free to contact me for more details.
PHOTO From left to right: Students from Aorere College with the Honourable Michael Woodhouse, Minister of Police; centre back His Honour Judge Gerard Winter and far right; All Black Legend Bryan Williams and Superintendent Graham Emery.