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.

Recap of I Choose Me holiday programme

What do you get when you combine dance drills, basketball, rap, kapa haka, poetry, bob-sled-ready, chicken sandwiches, Anzac biscuits, the Walter Nash Centre and so much more? The I Choose Me holiday programme for April 2018!

Morning sports session

Challenge 2000, Taiohi Morehu and Hutt City Council collaborated once again in the April school holidays to run “I Choose Me”- this time out of the mighty Walter Nash Centre in Taita.  We combined our creative arts programme with sports for the very first time and the atmosphere was energetic!  It was the third time we have run this programme but the first in Taita – the spacious sports facilities allowed us run a strong sports element within the programme.  Future NBA stars, Silver Ferns and All Whites were among us as many of our students showcased their sporting talents during the morning sessions.  Soaking up the knowledge of our guest speakers in the afternoon, we witnessed budding junior versions of Eminem, Parris Goebel and Idina Menzel grace the stage during our workshops.  As a group, we were challenged physically and creatively through dance, music, rap, kapa haka and poetry over a four day period.

Performance to the group

We had sixteen amazing and diverse rangatahi from the Lower Hutt and wider Wellington region participate in the programme.  Each day was centered on a different theme to “Be Brave”, “Be Confident”, “Be Creative” and “Be You” where all rangatahi were encouraged to use the theme in their actions for the day and to always give things a go.  Combining our creative arts programme with a sports element was the Taita “flavour” that enhanced I Choose Me this time around.  It was best summed up by one of the rangatahi whose feedback was, “I met new people who are now good friends and enjoyed the whole thing. Can I come to the next one?”

Reported by Faafetai Avei.


Anzac Day 2018

We will remember them.

Every year since Challenge 2000 was started in 1988 we have commemorated those who served and sacrificed themselves to secure our future and have translated how we can commit ourselves to creating just and peaceful world that they strived for. We are committed to serving others, and to building a nation of justice, love and responsibility where the dignity of every person is recognised and safeguarded. Challenge 2000 is a ‘yes’ organisation and we attempt to live out the Anzac spirit in our time and place.

Whanau at the Johnsonville service

On Anzac day we remember. We remember the lives lost. We remember those who returned, changed forever. We remember the loneliness and struggle of those left at home. We remember the huge effect WW1 had on our small country and how being Anzacs shaped our identity. We remember those affected by other wars.


Lano and Matt at the Wellington Anzac service

Our staff, gap students and whanau attended the service in Johnsonville at 10am and the 11am service in Wellington. Challenge 2000 wreaths were laid by Mele Kilino-Lapana, Matt Bentley and Lano Afutoto on behalf of our whanau. It is encouraging to see our young people taking the lead and engaging in such a fundamental part of our identity.


For the first time on our new site, we held a commemoration event that included a prayer service and drama in Johnsonville. We were delighted to have so many people unite as a community and remember those who served. There was plenty of behind the scenes support from our volunteers, college students and university students. Students from Bishop Viard, St Mary’s and Wellington Girl’s were in each day in the lead up lending a hand to ensure it all went

Muscians in their element

smoothly. These amazing students baked all the Anzac biscuits, prepared the costumes and ensured they fit the cast of twenty-five, painted crosses and learnt all the old songs to be performed in the drama and service. The Anzac spirit was very much alive in the build up and the students reflected on their own family experiences of war.  There were younger ones passing through during the day and students took this opportunity to share their own knowledge and explain the importance of Anzac day. We also had a number of volunteers come in throughout the week and offer their support and services, including an ex gap year student and her family who worked their magic with the artwork.

Brett Hudson reading the names of fallen soldiers from our Johnsonville whanau

Greg O’Connor reading The Ode

Wellington put on a great day for us and we were pleased to host 170 people made up of familiar and new faces. We were grateful to have our local MP’s Greg O’Connor and Brett Hudson attend and participate in the service by reading The Ode and the names of fallen soldiers from our local Johnsonville whanau. Jill Day, Deputy Mayor and Peter Gilberd, Northern Ward City Councillor were also in attendance along with representatives from the local Anglican and Catholic parishes, residents from the local rest home, representatives from the Police and The Johnsonville Charitable Trust.


Young solider being picked up for training

The family awaiting news of their beloved soldier

The programme begun with our drama set in Johnsonville where a young man volunteered to “do his bit” in 1915. We were taken on his powerful journey, one of courage, love, and sacrifice. His love story was like many others, letters exchanged throughout the war, holding onto the hope that they would one day be back together and moving forward with a promising future. This moving journey ended with a letter from a nurse who was with the young man when he died in combat “the death of these brave men who had given the last full measure of sacrifice in their country’s cause, comes as a noble inspiration to us”.  The service followed this and there was not a dry eye in the crowd.


The sing-a-long!

Following the service there was an opportunity for our guests to share stories over tea, scones, Anzac biscuits and cucumber sandwiches. And in the spirit of the time there was a sing-a-long of the old time songs – great to see the young and the old get involved and enjoy the tunes.


Te Po, Peter Gilberd, John Robinson, Jill Day, Savesi Apolo.

Thank you to everyone who attended our service. Anzac day reminds us of the bravery, loyalty, tenacity, love and service that our soldiers are known for. We remember the great sacrifice that was made by many to bring peace and to build this nation of ours.  It falls upon each one of us now to make a commitment to serve and to sacrifice and to live positively today so we are a country that those who served before us could be proud of.

Some of the amazing cast!

We would also like to take the opportunity to thank the following people for their support of the event. Elizabeth Kennedy for the beautiful wreaths, Tim Gordon for directing the drama, Jamie McCaskill for his musical expertise, Hire master for the use of the marquee, Wellington City Council’s Barrie Hutton for setting up the sound system, The Johnsonville Charitable Trust for their ongoing support and all of the actors, actresses, musicians and behind the scenes people who made this such a great community event.