Tua gives gloves to keep young refugees boxing
David Tua used to sneak into the Refugee Resettlement Centre to play soccer when he was a boy.
Now he's helping present-day refugees to get active.
The boxer is leading a drive to rejuvenate the Mangere centre's gym with a pair of his own boxing gloves. They've been autographed and will be auctioned on Trade Me to raise money for new sports equipment.
The gym has a few pieces of basic equipment but much is worn out or broken.
Mr Tua says the issue is one dear to his heart. One of his closest childhood friends came through the centre after fleeing from the genocide in Cambodia.
"Growing up in Mangere as a young kid, you ran into a refugee so many times," he says.
Around 125 refugees live at the centre at any one time where they take part in a six-week orientation programme to help them acclimatise to New Zealand life before moving permanently into the community.
About 15 asylum seekers also stay at the centre while they await their refugee status determination process to be finalised.
They generally face a wait of around two years, Refugees as Survivors spokeswoman Diana Swarbrick says.
The gym is a boon to all those at the centre, who often come into the country greatly traumatised and with just the clothes on their backs.
"They're stressed because they don't know anything about New Zealand, they don't speak the language and they don't know where they are going to live," she says. "Just because a refugee is accepted into New Zealand, it doesn't mean that their problems are over."
Mr Tua runs a gym in Onehunga and says having access to sporting equipment and leisure activities is especially important for the many children at the centre.
"It keeps them going, rather than going crazy."
As well as raising money via the auction, which can be found by searching for "David Tua" on Trade Me, the refugee centre is calling for donations of soccer balls, rugby balls, volleyballs, skipping ropes, ping-pong balls and bats. Call Ms Swarbrick on 270 0870 or email email@example.com.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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