When Wellsford resident Rata Korewha turned up to a meeting about becoming a mentor for the Springboard Community Trust, he thought it was going to be an opportunity for paid employment.
He quickly learned that he would actually be helping guide a young person going through a tough time and the work would be entirely voluntary.
Far from being disappointed, Rata became even more interested.
His own family background had been marred by drug and alcohol abuse and violence.
But each week he looked forward to a weekly Boys Brigade meeting, which provided a safe haven from a troubled home life.
“My parents did not take me out camping or different things like that. But Boys Brigade did. It was a real treat for me,” he says.
Rata saw that the Springboard mentorship programme would allow him to play a similar role in someone else’s life that Boys Brigade had done in his, and so signed up for the programme.
Shortly afterwards he was introduced to Rodney College student Quentin Galloway, 13.
Quentin says he was finding himself bullied and picked on at school because of his weight, and his school work was suffering.
“I wasn’t the fastest kid in school finishing my work,” he says.
With two sisters and a mother at home, Quentin also missed having a father figure in his life.
That’s a role Rata has been more than happy to fulfil and says the pair have got on famously over the last six months.
They meet for two hours every Friday. Rata says there’s no formal counselling as such, it’s more about hanging out together and developing a friendship.
“It’s about relationship building. If Quentin wants to talk about problems they arise spontaneously, rather than me saying ‘what’s going wrong in your life this week’,” Rata says.
Rata managed to get hold of an old mountain bike. He and Quentin fixed it up and now they often go
out cycling together.
As well as doing fun activities, Quentin says Rata has given him some great advice on how to avoid getting picked on and how to avoid being provoked.
“I’m a lot happier now, and I feel college is going well,” Quentin says.
“When I am in a position to be a mentor, I would like to do the same for another young person,” he adds.
Springboard mentoring coordinator Sheralyn Cotton says the organisation currently has 20 mentors in the Rodney area and is on the look out for more. Anyone with a heart for kids and can give two hours a week can apply.
Contact Sheralyn 021 743718 or email email@example.com.