Gap Graduation 2014

On December 7th the Marist Challenge 2000 Gap Year finished with a packed graduation ceremony at St Joseph’s Mount Victoria. It was a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Gap Year students and acknowledge all those who have assisted them in their journey this year. They all shared about their year including where they had been on work placements and what they had learnt, the impact on them of the huge range of experiences they had had, the many influential people they had met, the challenges that they had overcome, and the plans they have for 2015 and beyond. It was a privilege to be able to see and hear the impact the Gap Year has had on these young people. Proud families also acknowledged the development in their young people.

Throughout the graduation there was a common theme of gratefulness – for all of the people and organisations within our communities that have supported the Gap Year students and allowed them to grow into who they are today. In particular the Society of Mary has provided a lot of support to the programme in many different ways – the Gap participants and showed their real appreciation of this in their speeches.

Gap Grad 2014


What is the Gap Year?

The Gap Year programme involves holistic formation, NZQA youth work training, work placements, experiences, and local and international travel. The Gap Year offers the chance to develop the social, spiritual, intellectual, employment, well-being and physical elements that are required for a positive, successful and balanced life.

Participants access the extras that help you on life’s journey: driver’s licence, first aid certificate, technology training and as they receive a training allowance – it’s a chance to budget and manage $$$$ as well. As well as the individual chance to grow, discover and learn there is also a strong group/community focus – 8 young people all open to what life offers and ready to work together! Already 40 young people from New Zealand and overseas have accepted this invitation and graduated from the programme – well done!

Applications are now closed for the 2015 programme. If you would like to support the Gap programme in any other way or for information about 2016 please contact Kitty McKinley on the details below:

Phone: (04) 477 6827 or (04) 477 0045


Or Check out the Marist website

Gap students reflect on the year…

During my Gap Year, time has flown and I’ve done so much! At the beginning I was unsure of where I wanted to go in life, having just completed an exchange program over in France had left a lot of questions about what I thirsted for in life. Some of the things I have been involved in are; our youth programme at Newlands Community Centre, being a volunteer at IDEA services and L’arche in Kapiti and being a teacher aide at San Antonio Primary school, Eastbourne. These placements have helped me to widen my gaze to the needs of the community and where I want to go in life.

At Newlands Community Centre, I have helped to facilitate programs for young people, for example; cooking classes, so the young people could learn basic skills that they would be able to take home and replicate. Spending time with the young people there has taught me the importance of support. There is a definite need in young people to have role models and I learnt  that I could be one of those people, even though we only have two hours after school three days a week. All of the young people have different qualities, which makes our Newlands Community Centre youth programme  a diverse and interesting group of young people and I am glad I have been able to see them grow over the year. ~ Anya ~
Anya at Newlands

Where to start with my journey on this Gap Year programme! It’s crazy to think that last year I had not participated in any Challenge progammes, or met any of the awesome people who work here and participate in the youth programmes. Challenge is like one enormous family and is a home away from home. This year I’ve experienced many great things – for instance, a camp where we went lugeing, water rafting, and bungy jumping. The experiences over this year have challenged me and made me face some of my fears. Also during this year I’ve participated in different activities like teacher aiding, working towards a youth work certificate, meeting and walking alongside clients, support work at a kindergarten, and helping with lots of our different missions.

As part of this Gap Year we all get sent on a month long placement to further challenge ourselves on our journey to finding out who we are as a person. I am beginning my journey in New Zealand for two weeks and then for the last two weeks I will be heading to the sunny shores of Samoa. I will learn about a culture that is different to mine, whilst also getting hands on experience in challenging situations. This Gap Year programme is the greatest thing I have ever done and it has only been made possible by the continual support the Society of Mary, who support this programme, my Challenge whanau and my friends in the gap year programme~ Damien ~

Water Rafting

This time last year I was told about the Gap Year, what it has involved and some of the many things that I could get to try out and experience.

So I said yes to taking up the Challenge. I still wasn’t quite sure what I got myself into. But after my first day I knew that I had made the right decision and that this year was going to be one that I wouldn’t regret.

It didn’t take us long to get into the swing of things and to see how the day to day life at Challenge 2000 worked. On our second week on the programme all the Gap students went away for the week and did many different things. I went up to the Hawke’s Bay and helped up there. That was when I knew that I would be travelling a lot and get pretty used to the road between Wellington and Napier. Since then I have been up there to help with masses, help lead retreats and go on a Youth Development camp, but most importantly support for Luke and Manisha with the work that they do up there.

Other things that I have been doing throughout the year is working with young people, completing my youth work certificate, being a teacher aide at a kindergarten and doing reception work at Catholic Social Services. I have had some inspiring talks by some amazing different people.

Most importantly, I have become more confident within myself, learnt more about myself, and grown more as a person. Over the coming 3 months I look forward to our month placements away where I will be spending 2 weeks somewhere in New Zealand and the other 2 weeks over in Samoa. Overall I have really enjoyed the Gap Year of and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about themselves, grow as a person, meet some amazing people, and have fun. ~ Courtney ~

Childrens day fun

Gap Students

Gap Graduation

Our 8 gap students graduated with flying colours on December 1st 2013. It has been a fantastic year of challenge, growth, learning, experience and service. The 8 students achieved much and gave much this year. All past their NZQA youth work certificate and also gained full drivers licences and first aid certificates. For many it was also the first time they gained a New Zealand passport with 4 ‘gappies’ travelling to Samoa and Mexico respectively.

Gap Year GraduationGap Year students 2013

 Gap Year students in Mexico


Gap year students in SamoaThis year gap students mentored young people, worked on youth development programmes, supported the youth workers at Newlands Community centre, helped lead court supervised camps, tutored young people, lead holiday programmes, washed cars, cooked and served food, run groups in 5 different colleges, designed websites, typed and photocopied

It’s not too late to apply for gap 2014. Fill in the online application form and say YES to a year that you won’t ever forget.

Feedback for some of the gap year students 2013

“The gap year has taught me so much about myself and who I really am. I walked out of the gap year a lot more confident within myself and a greater understanding of myself and the different things that I am able to share with other people. Throughout the year I have done so many things that I never thought I would have done especially at my age. From the weekly placements, to the NZQA papers, to the overseas cultural experience in Samoa, to the talks that we had. Even though it wasn’t an easy choice to say ‘YES’ to the gap year, looking back at it now it was the best decision that I made at the end of 2012.” ~Courtney Halliday

This unique gap year has been so important for me at this time in my life. After leaving college last year overwhelmed by how many different options I had to choose from I am so thankful that i opted for a Challenge 2000 and Society of Mary Gap year. I have experienced so much over the last year. My world view has changed and I now see myself, others and New Zealand in a different way. This is definitely a year I will look back on with no regrets and identify it as an important stage in my personal growth and development. At this stage next year I am intending to go to Victoria university and do a BA majoring Social Policy. Many thanks to everyone who made it possible. ~Anna Hoskins



Challenge 2000 in partnership with the Society of Mary

introduce the Gap Year 2013!


Gaps 2013

Back Row (L-R):  Jacob Bang; Hakaraia Jacobs; Damien Don; Junior Seumanufagai

Front Row (L-R):  Courtney Halliday; Siata Apolo;  Anya Hodge; Anna Hoskins


What is this Gap year? It is a one year programme that involves holistic formation, NZQA youth work training, work placements, experiences, and local and international travel. The Gap Year offers the chance to develop the social, spiritual, intellectual, employment, well-being and physical elements that are required for a positive, successful and balanced life. You can also gain some extras to get you ready including your drivers license, first-aid certificate, and technology training!

If you require any information about the Marist Challenge 2000 Gap Programme please call Heath Hutton at Challenge 2000 on (04) 477 0045, or 027 329 3270. Or you can email us at


The Gap Year 2013 began on Monday 11 February at midday with a powhiri to welcome our new Gap students. There were a lot of nervous faces but the young people and family member presented themselves strongly, with an impressive speech from Hakaraia and a waiata: “Ka Waiata”. Following the powhiri, everyone gathered into the front room to witness the unveiling of the new names that have been carved into the Challenge 2000 carving depicting its whakapapa. Those who had their names added to the carving had been invited to be part of the unveiling and it was great to see the mix of old and new faces.

The first week was a mixture of induction, introduction, fun, team building, familiarisation and education about codes of conduct, boundaries and just getting to know the who, what, when, why and how.


The First 5 Weeks!

Since the powhiri for the Gap students they have been well and truly immersed in the life and challenges of the Challenge Whanau.

Gap participants have already:

  • assisted with after school programmes
  • participated in a camp for young people
  • cleaned up and tidied home and sections
  • sung at events
  • helped with community street day appeal
  • planned and facilitated a Childrens Day event
  • learnt how to work on retreats in Gisborne
  • shifted an office or two
  • completed a First Aid Course
  • played sport with young people
  • acted in a drama
  • begun their Youth Work Certificates
  • mentored and tutored
  • learnt and been on a retreat
  • catered and provided hospitality
  • made posters, painted and sculpted!

Plus lots more!!

If you would like to know more about how to support the Gap programme, sponsor a participant or have a “gappie” help your work, then contact Heath Hutton on (04) 477 0045