CYF teens winners on much-needed touch rugby outing
Former Polish PM visits
A day out playing touch at Te Rauparaha Park last week was extra special for a group of teenagers who live under the care of Child, Youth and Family.
In the first event of its kind, 30 CYF wards aged 13 to 16 from around the region sprinted, dodged and tackled alongside 20 of their care workers during a regional touch rugby tournament last Wednesday.
The young people all grew up in violent or unsafe homes and live in group houses in Lower Hutt. The homes are a last resort for wards of the state when foster families cannot be found, and are a common residence for teenagers in CYF care. Twenty of the teens live in a secure home in Epuni where they have limited movement for their own protection, so a day out would have been a treat, says CYF Greater Wellington operations manager Chris Harvey.
‘‘Just like any young kid, they’re keen on anything where they’re mixing with each other and having fun, having a laugh,’’ he says. ‘‘All of these kids would have had quite a bit of sadness in their lives at some point and our job is to move them into their adult lives.’’
The tournament was an opportunity for the teens, who have come as far as Gisborne and New Plymouth, to make friends with others like them in the region.
‘‘They’ve got similar life stories to tell so they understand each other,’’ Mr Harvey says.
Despite the Epuni secure home’s care workers towering over their charges, the teens thrashed their guardians on the day. The winners had an ace up their sleeve however – one of their number represented Waikato in a rugby league under-16 team last year.
The day was a real success, CYF spokeswoman Megan Hubbard says.
‘‘It’s just fabulous seeing them having these experiences . . . it’s an opportunity for these kids to be kids again.’’ Plimmerton resident Ula Tansley, an archivist with Archives New Zealand, was the right person in the right place when former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski visited the Wellington archive recently.
Ms Tansley, of Polish nationality, has been in New Zealand for just a year and was able to show Mr Kwasniewski some archives relating to the Polish children who came to New Zealand during World War II. ‘‘Mr Kwasniewski was most interested in documents reflecting the life of the children in the Pahiatua camp set up for them near Palmerston North, their day-to-day life, education and documents reflecting their jobs aspiration,’’ said Ms Tansley.
‘‘He also looked at the film we have in the National Film Unit Collection which shows the children arriving and settling in New Zealand. He enjoyed this handson view of his national history.’’
Mr Kwasniewski is credited with finalising and signing Poland’s Constitution in 1997.
Cultural connection: Plimmerton resident and national archivist Ula Tansley and former president of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski delve into the history books.
Pep talk: Thirty teenagers under the care of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) got a social day out and gleefully thrashed CYF staff at a regional touch rugby tournament last Wednesday. CYF Greater Wellington operations manager Chris Harvey joined teens for a team talk.