This week four members of the Challenge whānau were privileged to be invited to the Cullen Breakfast, to listen to Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu speak about Te Ao Mārama and the journey of enlightenment in the justice system, as a response to repeated calls for transformative change.
I found Judge Heemi inspirational and much of what he described was what we try to do at Challenge 2000, in all the different ways we journey with our young people and whānau. It’s so important that everyone is treated with dignity and respect and understand what is happening, so they can fully participate in our sometimes complicated systems.
It was great to hear from Judge Heemi the importance of loving what you do and having a dream and passion for what we study or do in our work and personal lives. Hard work and commitment makes any change possible.
Although it’s the end of a really busy year I walked away with my tank topped up and ready to go. Kia ora Judge Heemi.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited Challenge 2000 and held a press conference onsite as a part of Labour’s campaign trail. True to Challenge’s position of being open to everyone across all walks of life, the Prime Minister was welcomed into Big Pa before speaking to reporters outside. Challenge 2000 staff commented that they found Chris Hipkins to be personable, approachable and “treated people like people”. They also observed the “ruthless” interview process with the press and would have preferred if reporters had kept an open mind rather than asking single-minded drilling questions to elicit a defensive answer.
Several young people were also present to shake hands with the Prime Minister. A youth worker commented that it was a rare and valuable opportunity for the rangatahi to meet the leader of our country and expand their worldview. Our young people often perceive Government as a big unknown and far removed from their lived realities. One young person shared that the experience was brand new and that Hipkins was the most famous person they’ve ever met. Another young person described the morning as “out of it” and was surprised with the level of security and media present. He continued to share a story of meeting previous Prime Minister Bill English who was out on a run in Berampore. A common sentiment seemed to be that our politicians, despite their high profile, are also human.