Hokonui Huanui’s success encouraging

The success of the Hokonui Huanui project was shared at a launch of the project’s evaluation last week.

The project, which aims to help at-risk youth, was led collaboratively by the Community Networking Trust, Gore District Council, the Eastern Southland Kahui Ako (Community of Learning) and the Hokonui Runanga.

In 2019, the project received $2.1 million from the Government’s $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund.

In December 2021, independent researcher Dr Annie Guerin, of Christchurch, completed an evaluation of the project and results were shared at the meeting.

Project lead Lisa McKenzie said said the evaluation was very encouraging.

The document was ‘‘very rich with client voice’’ which showed how clients had been helped.

One client quoted said they now had the confidence to go to counselling after not leaving their home for three years.

Building trust with clients was one reason why the project had been so successful, Mrs McKenzie said.

‘‘If we hold them at the centre, and do what’s the best thing for whoever we are working with, then you can’t go wrong.’’

The project was about empowering clients to stand alone.

‘‘Yes, we do a lot of hand holding at the start but it peters out.

‘‘When [clients] are ready to do their thing they start to let go.’’

Hokonui Huanui staff liaised with other groups in the community to help clients.

‘‘What we do is just a small piece of something that is much bigger that happens in the community.’’

For example, when it came to helping people get their driver’s licence, the Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP) Drive My Life team were contracted to help.

More funding would be required for the project to continue, and the team were in the process of evaluating what future direction it would take.

‘‘The Huanui brand for me is about the community working together to meet the needs of that 0 to 24 and family/whanau-aged space.

‘‘I know we are just starting on that journey.’’

A message from Dr Guerin was read at the meeting.

She was humbled to have had the opportunity to do the research, Dr Guerin said.

‘‘How affirming to hear people speak of the value of being listened to, being spoken to respectfully, having a trust that they and their whanau recognise change is needed; and walking alongside someone who can help them instigate change but not dictate what the change should be.’’