What is a normal day in the life of a MASSiSS Social Worker? 

Sophie from Aotea College explains… 

Asking a school social worker what a day in the life is like is an impossible question; no day is ever the same. Some days can be filled with mundane back to back meetings, sorting students uniforms and delivering food parcels. Other days can be hearing students disclose abuse at home, seeing your clients be involved in fights or creating intensive safety plans for students at risk of self harm. Overall, it can be a very intense environment to work in and is sometimes chaotic. 

The general and overly simplistic summary of social work in schools is that we attempt to remove barriers that impede students ability to succeed at school. These barriers are varied, but we tend to support students who may be unsafe at home, they may live in poverty, be homeless, have disabilities, behavioural challenges and experiencing other circumstances that make attending and engaging in school difficult. 

Our engagement first begins with a referral from worried school staff members, self-referral or sometimes even the students’ friends bring them in to see me. After this, I will meet with the young person and start the relationship-building process. 

My Master of Social Work research on relationship-based practice and boundaries informs my practice and means I put the young person at the centre of my interventions. I believe relationship based practice is really fundamental to good social work practice as it helps to make the students feel safe and comfortable to share really difficult and personal challenges they may be facing. This creates the foundations to start working on some goals and the intervention process. We aim to give the young people a voice, to set goals to enhance their well being though te whare tapa wha, and to help remove some of those barriers to education they may be facing.

Overall, the work is really varied and no day is ever the same. Each day begins with a well intentioned to-do list. But is often thrown out the window when a crisis arises. It can really be chaotic, but I wouldn’t change anything. Helping the students through the chaos and being a person to guide them is a real privilege and is what gets me through the challenges of the job. 

Sophie Jennings is a Challenge 2000 MASSiSS social worker at Aotea College.

Holiday Camp!

Junior, one of our amazing YWiSS Youth workers recalls…

In the first week of the School Holidays, 15 of us ventured up north based around Omori/ Kuratau for a 3 night camp. It was a good mix of boys, some from Colleges nearby, and others in our Youth Justice Programme.

The main kaupapa of the camp was for these young men to have fun and to mix with other students they would normally not interact with. It was also an opportunity to get these young men outside of Wellington and involved in some new experiences. For some of them, it was their first time outside of Wellington! 

On Thursday we headed up to Whakapapa Skifield where the boys had loads of fun with the snow. Some of them learnt the basics of how to ski, while others just enjoyed being in the snow, as for some this was their first time seeing it. We were also lucky enough to go up to the very top of Mt Ruapehu through the Sky waka (gondola). 

On Friday we had more of a gruelling activity. We went mountain biking through 17kms of the hills of Taupo and Huka falls. It was a good challenge for all of us!  Everyone did well and managed to complete the cycle. We finished off with a nice swim at the hot pools in Taupo before heading home. 

There were a few highlights of the trip. What stood out for me was throughout the trip the boys started to interact really well with each other. They all started to come out of their shell and open up with each other. This was really special to see! 

Thanks to Challenge for giving these young people the opportunity to get away from Wellington and to push themselves outside their comfort zone.

Movie Fundraiser!

Kia ora Challenge 2000 Whānau!

We are excited to announce that we have a Challenge 2000 Fundraiser Movie night screening of “Whina” on Wednesday 20th July 7:30pm at Penthouse Cinema, in Brooklyn!

You are all warmly invited to join us to see – invite your whānau, friends, flatmates… the more the merrier! All details are in the invitation attached below. Tickets are $20 and all proceeds will go towards families / young people that are struggling this Winter.

This will be an awesome time for all of us to get together, celebrate, re-connect and watch Dame Whina Cooper on the big screen. We hope to see you there, 

Challenge 2000

June staff training and Matariki

Last Thursday we spent our June staff training learning about Matariki.

Jessica-Maraea our Group Programme Facilitator writes: 

“Mānawatia a Matariki! So much happened on Thursday, where to start! I delivered a ‘Matariki 101’ presentation focusing on the significance of Matariki to Māori followed by some activities for everyone to do in small groups. The first was brainstorming ways we can implement the teachings of each star into our work with youth, whānau and the community, which resulted in some wonderful ideas! Including ways to spend meaningful time with whānau, time to remember those who have passed, and ways to link with our natural world, to sum up a few. We also had a light-hearted dress-up competition which helped to embody some of the ideas in each group’s brainstorms! I was so impressed with the creative and brilliant ideas they came up with, stay tuned next Matariki to see some of them come to life!

We had a member of the Porirua community, Meri Holmes, join us to teach some harakeke weaving. She taught us how to make stars out of harakeke. For some of us, it was tricky but the smell of freshly cut harakeke filled the room and transformed the atmosphere into a special space and made the experience all that more enjoyable. Thank you for joining us Meri! 

Hangi was on the menu for lunch! Made with food brought by everyone, which was prepared and served with love by Mel and partner Whare, it was so delicious, a big thank you to the two of you! And finally, we ended the day with some team-building activities run by the wonderful cadets from Mana Colleges Service Academy, we were so impressed with their ability to get stuck into the activities despite only having met us that morning and again with their leadership skills to run the closing activities, well done Rangatahi mā. 

Overall it was an enjoyable day full of fun, laughter and learning.”

Youth Workers and R.A.P

On Tuesday and Wednesday 5 of our amazing Youth Workers had the opportunity to go to some extremely valuable training.

One of our Youth Workers writes…”We went to the praxis space in Wellington and completed the R.A.P course.

R.A.P stands for Rapid Ability Pathways and is centred around the Circle of Courage framework, an indigenous model of positive youth development. We engaged in role-play, and learned about the psychology of trauma and how that can help us to understand our young people better”.

We are constantly learning and up-skilling to learn how to better connect and engage with the young people that we work alongside.

Keep up the awesome Mahi!


ANZAC Day has always been important to Challenge 2000 since we began in 1988.

As a Youth Development Agency we encourage our young people to understand the past and then challenge them to make their contribution to a better Aotearoa and world by adopting and living the values of SERVICE, SACRIFICE, LOVE, JUSTICE and PEACE.

This year we provided a Youth Leadership pilgrimage around Wellington ANZAC sites on Thursday, arranged a Youth Service in Johnsonville on Sunday and then on ANZAC day attended the Dawn Service, then RenC one of our volunteers sang in the youth Choir and Petonio laid a wreath at the 11am Service at Pukeahu.

Tomorrow will offer an ANZAC Holiday Programme for 5-11 year olds.

Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou. We will remember them. By the way we live our lives today.


Kia Ora, my name is Mihi Hough and I am a gap/intern student at Challenge 2000.  

Because ANZAC day is right around the corner, we had the privilege of being taken around Wellington and shown important spots relating to this anniversary.

First we visited the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, where we had the chance to touch a piece of stone from Chunuk Bair. It was amazing to have been there and learn so much about that time.

We then moved on to the Rangitatau Reserve and then the Eastern Walkway. There were A LOT of stairs, but the view made up for it! Being there and seeing what they would have seen every day made me wonder how they would have felt at that time. We sat, talked and soaked it all in.

For our very last stop we went to Te Papa. We visited the Gallipoli exhibition, which tells the story through the perspective of eight ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. It was fascinating, and there was so much new information that we didn’t know.

Overall it was a great and very special day out, learning more about the significance of ANZAC day. It was awesome to be part of the team, and learning with them.

“Speak about us and say: That for your tomorrow we gave our today”

Hope you all have a wonderful long-weekend.

Sacred Heart Retreat

Yesterday and last Thursday we had an incredible two days with year 7 and 8 liturgy leaders at Sacred Heart School. We spent some time reflecting on what a great liturgy looks like and how we can lead these well, so that people can enter a reflective, prayerful space. 

The students delivered 6 litiruges on the themes of Anzac day, Grandparents day, Holy Thursday, Easter, Mothers Day, and current events (Peace in Ukraine).

Thanks to everyone who took part, it was an awesome day, and it was great to see such growth in leadership from these outstanding students!

A massive thanks to Sacred Heart for inviting us to come to do these Liturgy Leader retreats. 

Back to School

And just like that…. the 2022 school year is starting back up again!

Challenge 2000 has a number of youth and social workers based out at High Schools, there to help young people, whānau and the wider community.

We are currently based out at 6 colleges across Porirua and the Hutt. We have all been busy preparing for the year ahead, and we bet you have been too!

We wish everyone the best of luck for 2022.

Beannachtaī Lā Fēile Brīde: Happy St Brigid’s Day for Feb 1st!

In many places throughout the world St. Brigid’s Day is celebrated on February 1st . In our Johnsonville Community we have Saint Brigid’s school, begun by the Sisters of St Brigid in 1929 and the home of Challenge 2000 was the Sisters Convent, opened on August 1st 1937. Challenge lives in a very special place with strong, loving, courageous Irish roots.

St Brigid of Kildare was an amazing feminist woman who lived in Ireland in the fourth century and was known for empowering women and developing a spirituality for her time. Later her inspiration gave birth to an Irish Order of Sisters who are named after her.

This year on Tuesday February 1 some of our Challenge whānau celebrated St Brigid. It was an awesome evening and we were able to hear from others how Saint Brigid has been significant to them in their lives and how they have related to her.

Thanks to everyone that came!