HopeWalk 2018

HopeWalk Wellington 2018 suicide awareness and prevention walk is a free event hosted by Samaritans Wellington.

The aim of HopeWalk Wellington 2018 is to raise awareness of the devastating effect suicide has on families in our community and to raise awareness of suicide prevention support available. Last year 668 people in NZ died by suicide. It’s time to take a stand. No one person or group has the solution to suicide prevention, but we are #StrongerTogether.

This year, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, join us at HopeWalk Wellington. The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is “Let nature in – strengthen your well-being.” What better way to strengthen your well-being than by getting together with family and friends, wearing yellow (the colour of hope) and joining the HopeWalk march to raise awareness for suicide prevention in the beautiful natural setting of the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

Criminal Justice Summit

Challenge 2000 is playing a part in the Government’s review of New Zealand’s criminal justice system.

Staff members Tina Wilkins, Damian Dempsey and Heath Hutton attended the Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata summit held 20th-22nd August in Wellington. Politicians, academics, activists, and dozens of frontline workers discussed various issues pertaining to the complex task of trying to make New Zealand a safer and more just society for all its citizens.

Recurring themes throughout the summit included:

  • The challenges involved in ensuring the well-being of children e.g. domestic violence; drugs and alcohol
  • The relative success of our youth justice system vs. the abject failure of our adult system
  • The tragedy of health issues (e.g. mental health; addiction) becoming criminal issues
  • The enduring legacy of colonialisation

It was heartening to hear an experienced District Court advocate for more community-based sentencing options, the likes of which we here at Challenge 2000 have been offering with pleasing results.

There was also a strong call for the development of a strategy by Māori, for Māori. Several speakers noted that devolution of resources to hapū and iwi is badly needed if we are to create a criminal justice system that is both fairer and more effective.

For those interested, there are a number of resources – mostly articles and published research – on the website www.safeandeffectivejustice.govt.nz.

Festival for the Future

In the last weekend of July, six young people from Challenge attended Festival for the Future. Festival for the Future is a conference held every year which gathers young people from all around New Zealand for a weekend exploring what the future will look like, the issues which may arise and ways of combatting these issues. The festival was based on the waterfront, and each day started with a panel of speakers at TSB arena. This was followed by workshops and panels delivered by leaders from within New Zealand, and were held at different locations on the waterfront such as Macs Brewbar and the Wharewaka. A wide range of topics were covered during the weekend including housing accessibility, child poverty, mental health and environmental sustainability. The panels offered a chance for listeners to gain deeper insight into these issues including their causes and implications. The workshops were more interactive, and allowed attendees to develop skills to help them in their attempts to tackle the problems facing the future. Overall the festival was a fantastic experience and everyone came away inspired. We would especially like to thank Oranga Tamariki for their huge support over the weekend. –

– Gabrielle Lawson

The Caux Journey

One of our gap participants, Fiona, has just returned from Switzerland. Read on to hear about her journey.

“I was fortunate enough to have opportunity to attend the Caux Peace and Leadership Program earlier this month in Caux, Switzerland. Nestled high in the Swiss mountains lies a Palace where true magic happens. Imagine spending one month completely free of worries and concerns. One month where every moment, every opportunity for dialogue and discussion leaves you completely in awe of the potential we have as humans to build cohesive societies when given the space to do so.

The Caux Forum run by the organisation Initiatives Of Change is a series of conferences and programs run every summer bringing together people from all over the globe with the aim to empower and equip participants with tools to build trust across cultural, religious, political and economic divides. Born after WWII where citizens of a war-torn Europe wanted to create a safe space for reconciliation this network has spread all over the world aiming to build common ground across divides and thus a more just, peaceful, sustainable world.

The experience completely blew me away. Not for the fact that each day was filled attending training sessions, keeping the conference centre running as well having time for self-reflection. The biggest takeaway is of all the people I met and got to know. 40+ countries were represented amongst the 80 young people on my program. Each of us with our own story coming together to contribute ideas, experiences and for all our differences creating a global family of love, respect, trust and honesty toward another. After 30 days together I can safely say each and every person had wormed their way into my heart and given me so much hope for humanity. I am so grateful for this experience and opportunity to represent our small nation on the world stage. I will remember it for many years to come”

Frank Bird visits Challenge 2000

Frank Bird, a NZ priest who heads up the Marist Asia Foundation in Ranong, Thailand, visited Challenge 2000 on Tuesday 28th August. Frank shared about the Marist work among Burmese migrants, focusing on the role education plays in giving hope for a future other than a life of virtual slavery.

Xavier, a Bishop Viard College student who listened to Frank’s presentation wrote an insightful summary, which included the following: “Father helps run a school near the border. He showed us a short video clip about how happy the kids were as they entered the school and how happy they were to be at the school. The students love being at school and to wear their school uniform every day.

From this experience I have learnt to appreciate life more and that there are a lot of people suffering. I take my life for granted every day and one day I hope to have a positive effect on the world in my own way. Father has opened my eyes to the world and for that I am thankful. Even though I am aware of these issues, I have never looked into them deeply. These people live in a world of despair but organizations like the Marist Asia Foundation give me and these people hope for a better world.”

Interfaith youth forum – Saturday 28 July 2018

The youth forum on Saturday 28th July was for the large part blessed with the attendance of the older interfaith community. It started with a number of interfaith (and international) prayers, including some by video from Afghanistan, Armenia, India and Tibet.

The keynote guest was Her Excellency Vuyiswa Tulelo, High Commissioner of South Africa, who set the tone for the forum in very subversive but affirming/fortifying way. She shared very intimately about her own reality, her undiplomatic approach to a career in diplomacy, and to single parenthood, within the context of which she trains both her daughter and her son as feminists. She shared the importance of faith in her own life, and the knowledge that she is cared for and provided for by God, through angels in the form of the people around her.

Joy Dunsheath then introduced us to the sustainable development goals, before we were guided through the He Tohu exhibition, with the whakahaere of Watene and Romany at the National Library.

After lunch we sat back to enjoy the show, with four impressive young women debating the motion, “That we support the rise of online petitioning”. Adjudicators Chris Lahatte and Lagi Tuimavave announced the affirmative as the winning team, and cited the argument “that online and in-person petitioning are not mutually exclusive” as the winning argument.

The juxtaposition of such an adversarial mode of engagement in the context of an interfaith forum was a very interesting, and also useful point of reference, and it reminded us of the nature and value of the dialogue by which we are called to communicate with each other across faith divides. It also cast light on some interesting ideas, around human goodness and the capacity to cause harm, and how best to deal with that. This came up again yesterday in terms of diversity and hate speech, and whether sunlight is the best disinfectant, or whether it is better not to give oxygen to that which is harmful.

In terms of two alternatives not being mutually exclusive, I am wary of this argument, which is a popular one used in support of bills proposed, against any opposition. It strikes me that we live in a finite world of limited time and resources, and an interconnected world of interpersonal relationships. Rights and freedoms do not exist within a vacuum, and the provision for something on the one hand inevitably carries a consequence for that on the other. This is reason, I think, to approach contemporary issues with awareness, patience, sensitivity and compassion.

In the afternoon session the youth gathered by themselves, and we looked more explicitly at some of these contemporary issues, in light of the three themes or aspirations of the forum: global citizenship, gender equality and sustainable development.

We looked at the famous and devastating photo of the starving child and vulture in Sudan, for which Kevin Carter received the Pulitzer Prize, as well as vitriolic criticism, before ultimately committing suicide. We considered the extent to which such unbearable and unbelievable realities of injustice and violence are manifestations of our very human need for meaning, belonging and fulfillment, and our capacity for compulsive, exclusive and destructive action on the basis of these needs.

Finally we broke up into three groups to consider the three ideals, and how we might move towards them. In terms of global citizenship, the feedback pointed to encounter, communication (as a two way exchange) and commitment.

In terms of gender equality, the feedback pointed to celebrating achievement but persisting with the further necessary progress and improvement; acknowledging the positive but calling out the negative for what it is; asserting the rights and dignity of women, but investing in forming men as feminists as well. It also pointed to a broadening of definitions and understanding of gender, in favour of acceptance and love.

In terms of sustainable development, the feedback pointed to starting small, and being conscious of the decisions that we make, the actions that we take, and their consequences; and learning – with sensitivity and compassion – from our mistakes. It also pointed to a reverence for the earth.

A famous moral story in the Christian tradition is that of the Good Samaritan, by which we are called to identify the other in need as our neighbour, and to so respond to their needs. The dialogue that came out of the youth forum makes me think that the call to be a Good Samaritan is actually a call to be a Good Global Citizen – a global, gender equal and sustainable citizen. And that is no easy task.

Now, I am pretty confident that if I were walking down an unsealed road, and came across a beaten traveller, I would have the wherewithal and conscience to respond accordingly. But the call of the Good Global Citizen – and perhaps this is the point of the Good Samaritan after all – is to respond to that person in need even when the constraints of our communities or the pressures of our practical realities tell us not to. The call is, also, not only to respond to the needs of the person who has been beaten, or labeled a loser or outsider, but to engage with and respond to the needs of those who have inflicted injury, and those who have ignored it. Finally, the call is also to transform the road or the environment, and do so lovingly, so as to prevent future harm and suffering.

My sense is that this is exactly what we were doing on Saturday, at the Youth Forum, and again yesterday. My sense is also that this call is not only in the interest of the other, but also of ourselves. It is good for us to do this work, and it is good for us to do so together. So I am deeply grateful for this encounter and experience, and grateful in the anticipation that it will continue.

– Daniel Kleinsman


Introduction to Odyssey 2018

Odyssey is a youth programme led by Challenge 2000 Staff and young people. The programme is aimed at providing leadership and faith development, as well as providing the Sacraments for those who may have missed out. In the second week of the Odyssey, we focused on the importance of trust. We began with some fun games to break the ice in the group. This was followed by an introduction to what trust is, how we gain it and how we use it in our everyday lives without even knowing. The group was then relaxed by a quick meditation exercise.

The blindfold walk!

The big group was then split into 3 different groups where we discussed in small groups who we trusted the most in our lives and why. The way it was done made it closer and more intimate, it was also a great way for our young people to bond more closely. One of the more popular activities was the blindfold walk. Here, participants were blindfolded and guided to a destination by their partner. Trust was a key aspect in the blindfold walk as the blindfolded young person had to put their faith in the directions given to them by their partner.

The trust fall..

The final activity was a trust fall, however, instead of just backwards, it was both back and forth! The person falling would fall back and then be pushed back and forth between partners. The trust fall activity saw to much joy and laughter from all the young people. The session was wrapped up with some feedback from the participants on what they had learnt and picked up from the night’s activities. Food was of course provided before the young people departed. This was a nice way for newly found friends to farewell each other and look forward to their next meeting.


By Aaron Itinteang, Odyssey Leader

Challenge Staff Undergo Professional Development

Challenge 2000 staff recently underwent the first of two professional development days with internationally-renowned health sociologist Barry Taylor.

Barry is a specialist in suicide, a phenomenon which has tragically affected some of the young people and communities with whom Challenge 2000 works.

Held at Challenge 2000 headquarters in Johnsonville, the training day focused on building resilience in young people. A sharing of experiences showed that this is done most effectively by fostering connection, hope, and a sense of meaning and purpose.

Barry warned staff against the dangers inherent in the ‘cult of happiness.’ It is unrealistic, he claimed, for any of us to expect constant happiness. If we want to thrive, we must patiently tend to the garden of our lives during the bleakness of winter as well as the thrill of spring.

Barry also shared candidly about the root causes of the psychic pain that leads some to think of suicide as a solution. Traumas such as childhood abandonment or abuse, rather than suicide itself, are the issues that need to be addressed directly.

Despite the heavy nature of the topic, staff spoke positively about the training. We hope that it has increased our capacity to assist the young people with whom we work, especially those in distress.

Where to get help 

If your family member or friend is at immediate risk call 111 immediately for assistance

Lifeline 0800 543 354.

Suicide Prevention Helpline 0508 828 865.

Youthline 0800 376 633 / free text 234 or email talk@youthline.org.nz

The Lowdown www.thelowdown.co.nz / 0800 111 757 / free text 5626

Mental Health Foundation www.mentalhealth.org.nz

National Telehealth Service 1737.org.nz / free call or text 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor

There are also agencies in your community who you could talk to like your GP, local Marae, school counsellor or social worker.

Our very own Gav is off to the Softball World Champs!

WBSC XII Junior Men’s Softball World Championship

 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada from July 7th, 2018 to July 15th, 2018.

Whitehorse, Yukon 2014

I was fortunate to be selected from NZ to officiate at this coming WBSC XII Junior Men’s Softball World Championship tournament being held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, starting this Friday 6th July.

Eighteen umpires from across the globe were selected to work at this prestigious 9 day Championship, with fourteen teams from the 4 corners of the globe all vying for that Championship medal, come the last day 15th July.

Hamilton Fast Pitch 2015

The selection process began back in January with confirmation of my appointment being announced by the Chief Umpire at WBSC (World Baseball Softball Congress). This will be my 3rd World Championship that I have attended within the last 4 years and all have been in Canada.

I took up umpiring in 2004, after playing the game for some years. They (players/mates) would say “You’ve turned to the dark side now dick” It was hard at first, I think playing the game and being a student of it has helped but the rules and technical side of umpiring has been and still is continual learning itself. Now, ALL that hard work, perseverance and numerous hours out in the sun for umpiring instead of being at the beach or out on the boat fishing, is starting to pay off.

We have 7 Levels here in NZ for umpiring. We all start on Level 1 for a season at age grade then progress from there. Level 4 is where you sit for your badge at a national age grade tournament. This is normally an assessment followed by a 50 multi question test. If you’re successful, you are presented with your NZ Umpiring Badge which allows you to umpire Snr Men’s/Women’s games. The world is your oyster. From Level 4 – 7 usually takes 6 years and that’s if you pass all your yearly assessments and exams, so 2 years per Level. Level 6 gives you all national tournaments and internal internationals only.

To get to Level 7 you must have successfully completed Level 6 requirements, be nominated to sit your IsF Certification. This certification is normally combined with our Australian colleagues where we share the cost for the UIC (Umpire in Charge) from Canada/USA to attend and run the certification seminar. This seminar is a week-long and very intense programme with both practical and theory assessments going the whole time. However once you achieve your Level 7, lookout……..Every year there are 2 World Championships in play, so you can see there are plenty of opportunities. My goal is to attend the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

— Gavin Shepherd

“New beginnings” by Professor Boston

Challenge 2000 young people supported the second talk for “New Beginnings” given by Professor Boston from the Wellington University of Victoria. “New Beginnings” was held on Sunday 6th May at Uniting Church in Johnsonville, 70 people ages 11 – 80 attended the enlightening presentation. The focus of the talk was climate change and what we could do to help counter the effects of it. The talk was both an eye opening and informative experience.

Professor Boston shared his many insights into the topic and brought about good discussion amongst the crowd that attended. We learned about many of the natural wonders of the world that are slowly dying, and we as humans are the cause of much loss of life on Earth.

He was able to bring across a concerning issue and encourage us as individuals to not wait for a solution to come, but to instead bring about our own solutions! After listening to the Professor’s talk I feel very motivated to want to make a difference in the fight against climate change.

Small nations are suffering as a result of larger nations’ exploitations. As Professor Boston said: “God will not save us from our own folly – it will be up to us as a society and one people to find the solution to this global problem. The talk and discussion was followed by soup, rolls, conversation and community. Overall this was a profound, educative and motivational experience for all who came and there was a real commitment at the end to act locally and think cross politically here in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Reported by Aaron Itinteang.