Leadership Pilgrimage Year 12 and 13 Students

Come and join Challenge 2000 on a six day Pilgrimage to reflect on what it means to be a prophetic Catholic in Aotearoa today, to visit sacred sites, grasp social justice teachings, do some practical services and enhance leadership and community ministry skills.

The 2017 Pilgrimage will also include taking part in the Aotearoa Catholic Youth Festival in Auckland.

The Pilgrimage will be from Thursday 30th November until Wednesday 6th December 2017. Cost is $200 per person; sponsorship is available.

Pilgrimage one page poster Year 12 and Year 13 (1)

Michael Campbell “pops” in with some inspirational words

Challenge 2000 staff were pleasantly surprised when Michael Campbell “popped” into Challenge 2000’s staff training.  Michael spoke to the staff about his upbringing and his desire/passion to succeed as a Professional Golfer.  He spoke of the ups and downs of the world of professional sport.  He talked about “the battle within” – he had to battle his thoughts and feelings in his career but especially in the last round of the 2005 US Golf Tournament, which he won!  People had many different opinions of him throughout his career but he remained true to himself and held the belief always that he could do it.  At times, he said, he had to be selfish to succeed.  Staff were left in awe and inspired from his talk.

Stand out comments from Michael’s talk were:

“No matter how many times he lost his games, he just kept going and going.  Out of 500 games in his career, he won 17 of them.” Ihi

“I inspired myself.” Ihi

“Everytime I failed, I learnt something.  I look at failure as a learning curve.” Nic

“We’ve been given two hands – one is to receive, the other is to give.” Kerry

Challenge 2000 staff with Michael

The Campbell Cousins!

The Marist Challenge Centre

A 400 strong crowd gathered on Saturday to celebrate the official opening of the Marist Challenge Centre at 1 Wanaka Street, Johnsonville.  As the clouds parted, dignitaries who included the Prime Minister Rt. Hon Bill English, local MP’s Peter Dunne and Brett Hudson, the Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, Cardinal John Dew and Fr David Kennerley, Provincial of the Society of Mary arrived to bless and officially open our new premises.

This Centre will be a place for the people. After the plaque unveiling, Challenge staff and volunteers performed a powerful and emotionally charged haka composed by a Challenge staff member.

Commenting on the new premises Rt. Hon Bill English said, “Often when we look at the services which work with our most vulnerable they don’t show respect, they don’t look like places where we think we are putting people who are valued. And that’s what’s changing here.”

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester also acknowledged the commitment of Challenge 2000 to the capital city.  “Challenge 2000 through their values of social justice, of the notion of love works, that if we put a tender arm around our young people, support them, celebrate them, we get them on the right path”, he said.

Cardinal John Dew gave thanks for the work of Challenge 2000 as it stands up for others, teaches, encourages and supports vulnerable youth and families. He prayed that Challenge 2000 would always be a light in the darkness.

Following the formalities, young and old, past and present staff and volunteers shared a lunch at the Johnsonville Community Centre, reliving memories of Challenge 2000 and celebrating what the future now holds for Challenge 2000 and the young people of Wellington and Aotearoa New Zealand. A big thank you to those that came to celebrate the Opening and for the many different ways you contribute to the work of Challenge 2000 over the past 30 years. Love works!

Dignity, Responsibility, Justice, Love


Mana College Suicide Awareness Day


This week I had the privilege to attend and help at a programme at Mana College.
Mana College delivered a fantastic programme, lead by Mike King, which not only taught people about statistics and signs of depression, but also what young people can do when they feel worried or confused.
The message I received from the day is: it’s not that people who feel this way don’t want support, its that they don’t know where to find the support. And most of all they are worried about what the people around them think. I believe this day made the young people more aware that depression can be hidden, can present in different ways and behind a facade there are emotions that cannot be shown, only be spoken.
There were a variety of workshops which gave the young people a way to find an outlet outside their comfort zone, a way to express emotion through action, art, words, and creation. However the most valuable thing I believe young people and adults a like received from this day is:
It’s ok to talk, it’s normal to have these thoughts, and it’s ok to ask for support. 

It was a really good opportunity to mix with students that I otherwise would not of met or been involved with. It was great to see so much passion in teachers and the senior leadership team about wellbeing. I went home and comfortably said that if I were a parent, that I would send my teenager to a school that has truly put the student at the centre. A school that works out how best to encourage students and enable them to dream and overcome obstacles…….it was great to be there with my Challenge colleagues supporting Mana.
Matt Bentley, Social Worker
The main message was that I got from the day was: “I am hope”. This comes with the responsibility we have of being friends, being genuine and asking each other “are you are ok” and to give each other hope.
Lynley Goodisson, Counsellor
Mike King spoke about his own personal journey through depression/ thoughts of suicide / drugs & alcohol. His talk was very real and some of the things he said hit home for me and also for the young people. He connected with the young people really well throughout his whole presentation and made sure that they had fun but also understood the message about this cause. This was the biggest highlight for me.
Junior Seumanufagai, Youth Worker

An Expression of Gratitude

The 2017 Challenge 2000 Charity Dinner was held in Wellington on Friday 9th June, raising money for vitally needed families and young people who we work with.

The highlight of the night was the moving and inspiring stories from young people who have found hope, community and an opportunity to serve others through their involvement with Challenge 2000.  “No story is the same” said Challenge 2000 Director Steve O’Connor, “each person who shared their experience during the dinner came from very different circumstances but they all spoke with profound depth about the role Challenge has played in their lives.”

Challenge 2000 is preparing to move into a new home at 1 Wanaka Street, Johnsonville which has been purchased by the Society of Mary as a further sign of their unwavering commitment to youth, families and those who struggle.  Kitty McKinley, Challenge 2000 Founder, explained that “the moved into this new building will allow our staff and volunteers to have the space needed to better serve the community.”  Challenge begins relocating into the new Centre in July and made an appeal at the Charity Dinner for donations and sponsorship for furniture and developmental resources “we are tremendously grateful for the generous spirit of our supporters and the individuals, trusts and government agencies who help make our work possible.”

Gratitude was a theme for the night and it was highlighted the important role community support plays with seeing so many long standing supporters at the dinner including people who have supported Challenge for nearly 30 years, but it was also very heartening to see new supporters who are helping Challenge to grow and meet the very significant demands for our services.

Family worker Lynley Goodisson, Youth workers Te Poiakino Hohua and Mapihi Kelland laid the tunes for the night and the amazing staff at “The Pines” kept everyone well fed.  The Hurricanes were playing at the same time but to the credit of all those attending the night, including the MC Alex Ness (Hurricanes fanatic), the most important place to be was the Challenge 2000 Charity Dinner.

Thank you to  The Pines, to all those who worked to put together a successful evening and mainly to those that attended.  Your presence was our present!  Much gratitude!


RYPEN 2017

Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment (RYPEN) is a weekend residential experience for youth aged 14-16 years designed to develop skills that will assist them in the transition to adulthood.  Participants are involved in a variety of workshops and activities, which provide an opportunity for them to personally develop, gain self confidence, communication skills, challenge themselves, build friendships, and develop life skills.

Challenge 2000 would like to thank Johnsonville Rotary for sponsoring two of our young people who went along this year.

“It was a wonderful experience and I made a lot of new friends and learnt a lot of life long advice.  Personally, this camp has been one of my best experiences and I cannot thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to go on it.” D

“I enjoyed it so much and made so many new friends who I already miss.  It was such a fantastic experience and it has helped me with how I see myself and how I see others.” A

Challenge 2000’s presence at Parihaka

Reflections from attending the Crown apology at Parihaka.

A small settlement of unassuming buildings and homes, Parihaka is one of New Zealand’s most important historic sites.  Located 7 kms inland from the coast near Pungarehu, Parihaka is a small Taranaki settlement with a big history. The events that took place in and around the area, particularly between 1860 and 1900, have affected the political, cultural and spiritual dynamics of the entire country.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Parihaka was the site of New Zealand’s most visible episodes of peaceful protest when two Maori leaders, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi used passive resistance methods to occupy Maori land that the colonial government had confiscated. Such confiscations were in direct breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, which had been signed in 1840.

On November 5 1881, Native Minister John Bryce rode on Parihaka at the head of 1,500 armed constabulary and volunteer militia. There was no resistance. Te Whiti and Tohu Kakahi were arrested and transported to the South Island, where they were kept without trial for two years.

The ongoing spiritual legacy of Parihaka is one of living in harmony with the land and humanity. Some people, noting Te Whiti’s non-violent methods, have referred to him as “Gandhi before Gandhi”.


I went to Parihaka to commemorate/ participate in a significant milestone on the journey to peace and reconciliation between the Crown and Parihaka and maybe tinged with a little self-interest to ascertain and understand how one can reconcile something so terrible with peace and acceptance.

As a senior public servant I was to have participated in the march on to Parihaka as a representative with the Crown official party made up of Governor Generals, Mayors, Ministers and crown officials. I felt extremely uncomfortable around doing this even knowing that I was part of an official party, it didn’t feel right wairua wise.

I was saved the experience where the night before my colleague who runs the Taranaki Office and is the Pou Maanaki at Parihaka asked if I could help in the back and open 40 bags of Kinas and shuck some Paua. I jumped at the chance and was still able to share in the kōrero and the participate from the back without having to deal with the cultural compromising encounter.

The minister for Treaty of Waitangi negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, delivered an apology on behalf of the Crown to the people of the Parihaka for the Crown’s acts of aggression. The Crown delegation was greeted by a united Parihaka at the gate, as their colonial forebears were 135 years ago, but with peace, not aggression, in their hearts. It was an extraordinary sight to witness.


The Apology

Attorney General Christopher Finlayson and Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell delivered the crown’s apology for the sacking of Parihaka in 1881.

In the apology, Mr Finlayson said Parihaka was established in 1866 as a final refuge for hapu whose homes and cultivations had been repeatedly destroyed by crown troops and whose land had been confiscated. It was established under principles of compassion, equality, unity and self-sufficiency.

Under the leadership of Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai the community asserted its customary rights to land and political autonomy through symbolic acts of protest while promoting peaceful engagement between Maori and Pākehā.

“The crown responded to peace with tyranny, to unity with division and to autonomy with oppression. The Crown therefore offers its deepest apology to the people of Parihaka for all its failures,” Mr Finlayson said. The apology detailed those failures, including imprisoning Parihaka residents indefinitely without trial for the ploughing and fencing campaigns of 1879 and 1880, the invasion of Parihaka in November 1881, the rapes by crown troops in the aftermath of the invasion causing the immeasurable and enduring harm to the women of Parihaka, and other through crown actions and omissions.


“Appropriate”, “overdue”, “not enough” were some of the whānau’s comments regarding the apology.  My own thoughts were that “it offers hope for our future Ngai Māori/Ngai Pākehā”. The resolution package and financial redress will go a little way in the work to develop the papakaingā and in carving a new way forward for the community.

However, it’s not enough, a national peace day/ Remembrance Day is required to hold us to account that we never forget and pay homage to the intention and the wairua of peace and reconciliation.

The ceremony, He Puanga Haeata will close one chapter in the Parihaka story, and will be remembered as one of the most significant milestones on the long road of the ongoing work to achieve peace and justice in Aotearoa New Zealand.


It was appropriate also to see the Army and Police in the back doing the catering for the hui and feeding the people of Parihaka, the irony of it was not lost on many.


Shane Graham

Challenge 2000 Board Member