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Changing lives - Changing generations

“Our clients – among the highest risk families in south Auckland and the far North – have been significantly impacted by the effects of Covid-19, the lockdown and associated restrictions,” said Shawn Reddy, Chief Executive at Te Whakaora Tangata.


Te Whakaora Tangata, a privately funded organisation, has invested in the south Auckland community for 17 years working with high-risk families referred by the local marae and Oranga Tamariki.



Founded by Cliffy and Indranee Reddy, the Te Whakaora Tangata team has grown to 18 members, and works with clients for up to two years to identify, address and overcome the root causes of addiction and trauma.


While the team are trained and experienced in de-escalating high pressure, and sometimes volatile mental health situations, this year’s Alert Level 3 & 4 lockdown presented a different kind of crisis.


Early on in the lockdown, Te Whakaora Tangata received essential service status as they were inundated with messages from anxious clients. The team quickly came together to plan how to best support families during the unfamiliar and stressful time.



“Lockdown triggered many complex feelings and emotions for the families we work with so it was important for us to be contactable.


Our families were struggling with not having enough food to feed everyone at home, deep feelings of isolation and mental health issues.


“We used all communication avenues available to us: phones, text messages, Facebook – everything we could to encourage families to keep going, or to help when they might be on the verge of causing harm.


“Sometimes we are the best people to help, other times we ask specialist aid organisations to step in, like food banks.”


Given the unprecedented circumstances, Shawn and a colleague moved into the Te Whakaora Tangata offices for the duration of Alert Level 3 & 4 so there was always someone available to support the more than 60 families in need of their guidance during lockdown.


“We brought our beds into the office so we could respond to every call received throughout the night.”


Te Whakaora Tangata relies on donations from individuals and organisations including the ANZ Staff Foundation. Their key goal is to help families become resilient by breaking the cycle of dysfunction caused by past trauma.


Research shows if a family unit is strong they can withstand issues like unemployment, drug or alcohol abuse, Shawn said.


“We’ve learned that safe communities are built in the home, so we teach and demonstrate what that looks like and how to constructively respond to conflict.


We facilitate a range of courses to help our families but the most fruitful is the family restoration course.”


Once the Covid-19 restrictions on social gatherings lifted, Te Whakaora Tangata returned to facilitating their landmark family restoration course in person rather than online.


“We’ve had full attendance at almost every session since. In an era of physical distancing, that speaks to the value of the course.”

In 2016, Rob completed Te Whakaora Tangata’s Family Restoration Course and it changed the trajectory of his and his family’s lives.


“Through corrections and parole conditions I’ve done 78 programs. They’ve all failed.”


“Before I did the [Te Whakaora Tangata] course I had to… go out to hurt somebody to make myself feel better.


“But now, I started my own business. I’m mowing lawns, taking care of trees and gardens. Got married on our 34th anniversary. I’m also drug free.”


Of the family restoration course, Shawn said: “Every family is different so every solution is different. We generally work with families for about two years, sometimes more.


“It’s the best feeling in the world seeing them move from a place of dysfunction to standing on their own two feet.”


Te Whakaora Tangata is a recipient of ANZ Staff Foundation funding. Applications for the August 2020 ANZ Staff Foundation funding round are open until 17 August. Visit the ANZ Staff Foundation website for more information.



About Te Whakaora Tangata


Te Whakaora Tangata is privately funded and relies on donations from individuals and organisations.


Its relational programme empowers parents to control their emotions and demonstrate healthy relationships transforming more than 1000 at-risk families and future generations of families in south Auckland since 2002.


Primarily based in south Auckland the Trust started operating in Kaitaia in early 2020 as these communities identify as among the most vulnerable in New Zealand.


After completing the programme:


·         76% of participants reduce alcohol and drug use


·         67% reduced suicidal thoughts


·         75% reduced violence towards their families


·         74% reduced feelings of depression and anxiety


Click here for more information and to find out how to support Te Whakaora Tangata’s important work.



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