March 29, 2019, 11:17 a.m.
After leaving the Black Power it would not be long until Martin Kaipo’s leadership skills were called upon, however this time it would be at the request of local law enforcement.
Police began to drop at-risk youths to Kaipo’s family home in Otāngarei which steadily grew in numbers effectively launching his career in social services.
He started a youth sports group and after seeing the need to grow his services, Kaipo returned to high school in his 50’s as an adult student working his way up to a PHD in social services.
“I thought I knew it all, you couldn’t tell me nothing but hell was I wrong,” he recalls of his time at school.
His social services company Te Hau Awhiowhio o Otāngarei Trust has grown to occupy six buildings across Otāngarei including a sports academy which runs the successful Hākinakina programme for young professional athletes.
Offering simple services such as helping people understand official documentation to assistance with making calls to departmental officials, the trust employs 50 staff and delivers a number of contracts to the Ministry of Justice, Health, Social Development and the Northland DHB.
“If you look at a lot of the stuff we do, it’s not innovative, it’s quite simplistic. Why do we need to be simple? So that our whānau understand.
“What we bring is the skills and abilities to work and bring balance to both sides of the ministry and the community. Skills of understanding whānau and understanding systems where whānau can be informed, guided and that we don’t dictate.”
Janine Kaipo believes everyone in Otāngarei begins on the same step but the struggles often begin with alcohol however with easily accessible services in the heart of the community, people have a better chance to make change.
“Adults may still be doing the same thing but they’re putting more strategies around themselves. I’ve seen whanau change behaviours especially around childrens birthdays that there will be no drinking and the birthday is about the baby. It’s just little changes like that.”
Despite the issues the community faces, Otāngarei is alive and consistently resilient.
“People may have a problem with you one day but if anything happens, they’ve got your back.
“Everyone is staunchly protective and loving, they will give their last dollar to your fundraiser and that’s how kind this community is”.
Kepa Earles, social worker for the trust credits Martin and Janine for changing his life and providing him with the skills to give back to the community he grew up in.
“He’s given us opportunities, hes created a working network thats whānau based and Māori based, he’s probably one of the best things that ever happened in my life, him and Janine.
“They’ve helped me to learn and to be the best I can be but also to stay within our boundaries for what our trust and all our values mean to our community.”
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