Taranaki had been calling Kere Ell home for some time when he saw that Western Institute of Technology was offering the same Social Work degree he was studying in the South Island. With his children having left home, he made the move back to Taranaki.
A year before, in the South Island, Kere had been asked to become a mentor and help create positive memories with 11-13 year old boys from a highly impoverished community – “It was amazing to see the lift in their confidence when encouraged to give new things a go. I began asking the boys what they wanted to do when the left school; I always got the same result, a shrug of shoulders. Digging a bit deeper, these boys had few, if any, male role models in their lives”. This inspired the idea for New Horizons Aotearoa (NHA). When Kere moved back to Taranaki he knocked on the door of the then Devon Intermediate principal and shared his vision for rangatahi doing it hard. The principal said, “You find some mentors, and I’ll give you the tech lab, my tech teacher and provide you with my staffroom for steering group meetings”. She also offered to join the steering group.
Further support to develop and strengthen the idea came through BAF – Bishop’s Action Foundation. Kere recalls, “I was unknown in Taranaki and, with no local supports, it was going to be really hard for me to tap into funders. BAF quickly came on board and began supporting funding applications for us based on their reputation.”
Since those humble beginnings in 2015, NHA has proudly built relationships with local schools, supporting businesses, numerous mentors and over 300 young people. Weekly sessions across four schools see mentors and young people come together through building things for the community; but it’s more than what’s being built, it’s the building of confidence and self-esteem of rangatahi.
Kere shares the impact he’s seen in one young person facing grief due to the tragic loss of her father. “When she started, she used to come along with a real tough exterior and attitude. But real confidence is completely different. With encouragement, praise and humour, she began making eye contact, laughing, smiling and giving things a go.” When Kere caught up with her mum, she also shared “You know, thanks to your programme, she’s out there and taking on the world with so much confidence.”
In 2019, BAF supported New Horizons Aotearoa to gain charitable status and establish its trust and today they are a strong organisation with their own networks and positive reputation. BAF continues to champion their work.
NHA are currently not operating due to Covid. However, post Covid, Kere has plans to expand into three schools in mid and south Taranaki. Long term, he would like to see the programme deliver nationally.
The NHA Trust is looking for new, experienced and connected Trustees to build capacity to expand. If you would like to be a part of this exciting growth, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.