By Dorothy Preece.
A new, locally envisioned Trust has been set up in Mercury Bay, with the aim of supporting and encouraging young people for whom life is circumscribed by special needs. The new building for Te Tiihi Nui Trust (which translates as ‘the Big Cheese’) opposite the Z station in Albert Street, Whitianga was officially opened with a karakia led by kaumatua and local musician, Mutu Dahm, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, 10 November. The ribbon was cut by Kieran Clayton, one of the young adult clients of the Trust, supported by Kim Abrahamson, a Trustee of the newly-formed Te Tiihi Nui Trust. Kim announced their Mission Statement: “Our mission is to enable meaningful work for young adults with disabilities and provide them with a sense of purpose and belonging in the community.” She went on to outline the Trust’s vision for the future. “It is our dream to provide something meaningful, here in our supportive community, for these special people to be able to continue living and contributing here, so they feel a part of their own known community.” The newly -opened building is intended to be a welcoming place for the young adults to meet together and hang- out, where they can feel safe and find confidence socially.” Paige ……who has also recently turned 21, was present along with Kieran. Both are very happy to have such a place. Kim says there are four or five young adults like Kieran who live locally, and are known to the Trust, but they want to support all the families who cope with similar challenges. “Unless we find support for them here, these young people will have to go away from home to independent living facilities. It is our ultimate goal to set up a home for them here, but that’s a long way down the track. In the meantime, we are reliant on grants, sponsorships and donations, and appealing for local work experience or volunteer opportunities to expand our work.” Paul Clayton, Keiran’s Dad, spoke to the gathering of the options available at present to these special young adults. “When they turn 21, they tend to fall off the secure framework that they have had at the Learning Centre, part of special education at MBAS. We have done our research and there are more options in Auckland and Hamilton with the bigger customer base, but for smaller population areas such as Whitianga or any town on the Peninsula, it would mean a trip to Thames every day at best. At worst, it is living away from home. This town has done nothing but good for Kieran. When the last couple of years of school for Kieran, were staring at us, we realised we needed to do something for Kieran and for others in our situation.” We weren’t alone in that. This is their home, their community. It’s been a hard and frustrating, but rewarding journey to this point.” Kim says it’s very early days for the Trust. “Pub Charity has helped us with our mobility van, and they are supporting us with one year’s rent of the property, but our success will rest upon community support, for businesses and groups to offer opportunities so that these special young people can participate more fully and know they are valued.” “Our first client, Kieran has support in going to the gym, planting natives at the nursery, delivering papers and continuing to improve life skills such as cooking.” The other Trustees alongside Kim are Dave Enright of Coromandel Insurance Services and Phil Hart, Chartered Accountant and sponsor of local musicians and local talent in the region. The opening event brought many people expressing their support and interest. www.tetiihinuitrust.org.nz
Editor’s note: The Te Tiihi Nui Trust needs specific support and assistance and among those who read this, there will be some who know they can respond to such a needed, rewarding and hope giving field of work. Don’t hesitate to contact Kim Abrahamson or Paul and Fleur Clayton. www.tetiihinuitrust.org.nz.
Caption: Trustees of the Te Tiihi Nui Trust: Phil Hart and Kim Abrahamson, left, and Dave Enright with Paige and Kieran on the right.