A coordinated, community-led initiative, based in the Gore District, is targeting children and young people who might be falling behind, through early identification and response.
The Hokonui Huanui (Highway) project aims to generate shared community responsibility to ensure all children and young people have the skills and wellbeing to travel seamlessly from birth to adulthood. The goal is: Success for all – no-one left behind.
“We wanted to enable services to be more collaborative, and fill gaps where services may be missing, to improve support for young people through transition periods,” says project lead, Lisa McKenzie.
The Hokonui Huanui is the metaphorical pathway that children and young people travel along take as they grow and mature into adulthood.
“The use of a highway as a metaphor is to convey the impression of a road on which young people travel – the road of life. Like roads, life also has its share of potholes,” says Lisa.
“Put simply, the idea of the project is to smooth the potholes, and have clear signage pointing the way to help young people achieve their goals.”
The project draws on the strong links and relationships between the schools and agencies across the community. It’s collaboratively led by the Hokonui Runanga, Gore District Council, Community Networking Trust, and Eastern Southland Kahui Ako (Community of Learning). It’s supported at an implementation level by the Ministries of Social Development and Education, Oranga Tamariki, Police, Southern DHB, and local primary and secondary school principals. And at an operational level, a large number of local organisations and agencies are connected and involved.
“One of the aims of the project was to involve the whole community, by including a range of organisations, agencies and schools, as well as individuals using their skills to step up and make a difference,” says Lisa.
While the project had been in development since 2017, it received a significant boost in April 2019, when the Provincial Growth Fund approved funding to the tune of $2.1 million over a three-year period.
What it does
Hokonui Huanui is delivering a range of initiatives across three workstreams:
- Right Service, Right Time – increasing access to specialist supports and services for children, young people and families with complex needs, through early identification and coordinated responses
- Learning to Earning – supporting work-readiness of young people aged 16 – 24 by looking at ‘whole person’ preparedness, including mental wellbeing, resiliency and employability skills
- Health, Wellbeing and Resilience – increasing the uptake of a range of local and nationally available tools to support low level mental health, addiction and resilience challenges.
One of the areas of focus is transition times in young people’s lives, including the adjustment from primary school to intermediate or secondary school, then again into vocational or tertiary education.
“Obviously there are other hiccups or setbacks in life that can contribute to young people struggling. Sometimes things land in front of you that you weren’t expecting, and you’ve got to work out how to go through it, or around it or over it,” Lisa says.
“The role of Huanui Navigators is to work alongside a young person or whanau, assisting them to overcome obstacles on their journey. This is often achieved by, empowering them to get access to any supports or services they might need. This could include preparing a curriculum vitae, gaining a driver licence, increasing parenting skills or access to counselling."
“It’s about helping with what they need, when they need it,” says Lisa.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks says the project is a journey that will go on for a long time.
“I know there will be a lot of benefits brought to this community, not just now, not just in the immediate but well into the future and so often when initiatives start they are treated as sprints whereas we know this is a marathon,” he says.
Find out more
You can contact the overall project lead, Lisa McKenzie, at [email protected]
You can also learn more about the development of the Hokonui Huanui project by checking out this webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7Ew_qSk2A