Young stepping up to lead at marae

CHELSEA ARMITAGE
Last updated 12:00 05/07/2014
Whakatu Marae
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
NEW CHAPTER: Retiring Whakatu Marae chief executive Trevor Wilson says the marae is in good young hands. 

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It was a sad day at the Whakatu Marae as its chief executive stood down from his post.

Trevor Wilson, who has been in the position for seven years, is moving on to work part-time at Presbyterian Support and the National Network of Stopping Violence. He also hopes to spend more time with his grandchildren, with his fourth due to be born in the next few days.

Wilson's passion for Maori health saw the marae go from strength to strength during his term, with his successes including opening a free gym and supporting waka ama, triathlon and Iron Maori competitions. The gym includes treadmills for whanau members over 250kg, he said.

Wilson said traditionally elders were always in charge in Maori culture, but the young people at Whakatu Marae had "turned it upside down" and taken the lead.

"Whanau had been disenfranchised, so to see people coming back and taking absolute control of the organisation has been amazing.

"To have that dream and look at each other thinking: ‘This is never going to happen,' and to see it come to fruition has been a real highlight," he said.

The marae has a registered nurse, social workers, counsellors, health promoters and anger management facilitators on site.

"I'm really thrilled with what we've done here to help youth in the community," he said, while acknowledging the financial input of Child, Youth and Family Services.

"We've had some really great success stories with kids here."

Kim Ngawhika, quality manager at Whakatu Marae, said the marae would miss Wilson on "many different levels".

"He has inspired, guided and supported so many people during his time at the marae," she said.

"We know his inspiration, guidance and support will always be present even though he's not."

Wilson's resignation comes as a new Maori health service, Te Piki Oranga, has opened its doors across the top of the south.

The organisation brings together Maori personal, mental and child health into one organisation.

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- The Nelson Mail

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