Nur­tur­ing trust up for award

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Te Whangai Char­i­ta­ble Trust’s ex­pe­ri­ence in giv­ing long-term un­em­ployed a chance to re­build their lives has been recog­nised again with a fi­nal­ist spot in the 2012 Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Net­work’s So­cial In­no­va­tion Awards.

The trust, which was a fi­nal­ist in the 2009 Trail­blazer Not for Profit Awards and won the Waikato not for profit and Trail blazer Awards in 2010, runs an eco-nurs­ery grow­ing na­tive trees and plants, staffed by peo­ple who find it dif­fi­cult to get into the labour mar­ket.

It of­fers jobs and skills train­ing to peo­ple in the South Auck­land, Waikato and ThamesCoro­man­del ar­eas who have been un­em­ployed for more than a year or are dis­ad­van­taged be­cause of ill­ness or cir­cum­stances.

Te Whangai is Maori for ‘‘to nur­ture, adopt or nour­ish,’’ with nur­tur­ing the ba­sis of the train­ing and sup­port.

‘‘Our so­ci­ety has failed to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for those caught in a poverty trap,’’ says Adri­enne Dal­ton who with her hus­band Gary de­vel­oped the trust from scratch on their dairy farm five years ago, ini­tially se­cur­ing fund­ing from the So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­istry as well as us­ing their own money.

She says the trust is swamped at em­ploy­ment ex­pos by peo­ple want­ing a chance to get on its schemes, which pay $100 a week more than the un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit for 30 hours work a week. Un­for­tu­nately this scheme has been re­placed by Flexi-Wage with re­duced as­sis­tance.

‘‘Their day starts at 7.30am and fin­ishes at 3.30pm four days a week, on the fifth day we of­fer train­ing for job hunt­ing, per­sonal skills or any­thing else that helps our work­ers, and we hire spe­cial­ist train­ers for this.’’

At the mo­ment the trust needs work­ers for a new nurs­ery and en­vi­ron­men­tal part­ner­ship with a large com­pany in Waiuku but is strug­gling to find enough drug-free work­ers for its first team.

‘‘All our new work­ers are drug and al­co­holtested be­fore they be­gin their place­ments,’’ says man­ager John Wal­ter. ‘‘And we work with Community Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices to eval­u­ate their needs for ed­u­ca­tion and coun­selling.’’

‘‘But for our new Waiuku Cor­po­rate part­ner­ship we need work­ers who are drug-free from day one.’’

The Waiuku de­vel­op­ment is an enor­mous op­por­tu­nity for the trust to ex­pand its ser­vices throughout the Auck­land and Waikato ar­eas where it knows there is a huge need among the long-term un­em­ployed as well as those with crim­i­nal records.

‘‘So many of our youth are dis­en­fran­chised,’’ Gary Dal­ton says. ‘‘ We need to be able to un­der­stand the real is­sues of poverty and the de­pres­sion it of­ten brings, what we do here works be­cause we walk along­side them, it’s hand- ups, not hand­outs,’’ Gary says.

‘‘It is about peo­ple, not money, it’s about chang­ing our community. Peo­ple com­plain about wel­fare pay­ments but no­body is pre­pared to do any­thing about it.

‘‘The peo­ple here have de­signed and built our fa­cil­i­ties, they’ve used skills that haven’t been recog­nised. It’s not their dis­ad­van­tages that are the prob­lem, it’s our in­abil­ity to har­ness their abil­i­ties.’’

John says: ‘‘Our guys take a huge sense of achieve­ment in what they do. They want to be able to show their mokop­una in 50 years time what they’ve raised and planted, to be able watch plants come up from seed into big trees.’’

The awards cer­e­mony takes place on Novem­ber 22 at The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auck­land.

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