Role models set standards for youth
"Be the change you want to see in your community" is the war cry of the Warriors of Change.
The group of 18 to 25-year-olds are working to better themselves and help turn around the youth of Randwick Park.
They came together three years ago to work towards being a leadership group that could become good role models and show kids the right way, member Paihere Tims says.
Part of the reason he joined was "the sadness with the tagging and the gangs, the graffiti and all the drinking and alcohol problems".
Directing youth away from that path is what the group is all about, the 18-year-old says.
It leads by example and its members understand they need to change themselves before changing others, 20-year-old William Benjamin Tamarua says.
"We've got to go through that first and show experience before showing the kids how to do it," he says.
Members come from different walks of life and some have experienced the things that bring down their community, he says.
"Some of us have been into that kind of stuff, some have been through doing drugs and alcohol, some have been through local parks tagging,.'
Group members have now embraced the Christian culture that brought them together. Now they are running youth groups and after-school and holiday programmes in conjunction with community providers to help Randwick Park from within rather than relying on others, Mr Tamarua says.
"Each leader has a certain number of kids that they have to follow up on and just see how things are with them."
They hope to see gradual change and progress come to Randwick Park but don't expect major changes in the short term, Mr Tamarua says.
"It is more a 10-year-long process so we are in it for the long run."
Randwick Park Residents Association member Dave Tims was responsible for bringing the group together.
The suburb has "heaps of potential" but also a bad image. The group is evidence that really good things can happen in Randwick Park, he says.
"These are the guys who can be the catalyst to bringing change."
The change in the group's members has been massive, he says.
To further their experience Mr Tims plans to take them to live and work in the slums of Bangkok for two weeks in December.
He hopes to show them how good things are in New Zealand, he says.
"But also to impart a dream that maybe this lot, sometime in the future, could move into a slum and start community development like they're doing here."
The group is working to fund the trip themselves and has been looking for any work they can put their hands to.
"We have the philosophy of a hand up, not a hand out," Mr Tims says.
They are hoping to get some stocktaking work and have already turned their hands to lawn mowing, gardening and catering.
Anyone who has work for them or would like more information can call Dave Tims on 021 0825 6001.