Identity is important to Amiria Mcgarvey. So is action. She uses sports as a vehicle to connect people and bridge gaps so they can find their identity.
Working in Huntly as the co-ordinator for Sport Waikato has been no easy feat. Mcgarvey's first few months working on her own was a challenging road to walk.
"I came across heaps of resistance. There were many concerns from the community that had to be addressed and I got the brunt of all of that."
Mcgarvey said people wanted to know who she was, what she was doing and then put forward what they wanted.
"I got a lot of slack and I thought, no, this isn't a place for one person. But I had a vision and I was like, right, the only way we are going to be successful is if we have a team, so I encouraged Sport Waikato to let two other people be based here."
In those early days on the job, she battled to get the trust of the community and to lift the profile of the organisation.
"I fought so we could start aligning some of our work and be a presence in town. What seemed to be the most common thing from feedback was that Sport Waikato had let them down in the past.
"So I really listened to what the community was saying and it was through a sports forum that they were brutal and blunt. From that I started forming a plan to start getting those concerns actioned."
Armed with a team who shared the same vision, Mcgarvey worked tirelessly to gain the trust of the community.
Mcgarvey and her team have made a lot of headway, rebuilding relationships and making connections for organisations to work together so the community can benefit.
They have worked with Te Wharekura O Raukaumangamanga School to provide new sport programmes for the community.
"We have five modules during the year and without that, that's over 1000 people not being able to participate in one year."
She said the basketball module, for example, was initiated from feedback out of the sports forum.
"Whanau wanted different informal sport they could participate in regularly. When it first started, I had to be there every time to run it, to organise it."
The module is now in its second year and locals are organising the games.
"So they are now stepping in to do the scoring, the referring, to support and help. That's what we want."
Mcgarvey said it was a good example of how the modules could create opportunities for people to be involved in sport.
"I guess this is evident with our miniball modules, touch modules, adult social sport modules, sports awards, swimming programmes, project energize initiatives etc."
The rewards make all the efforts worth it. "I take the information and find out what resources Sport Waikato has and I think how is this going to be sustainable for the community? How do we need to be looking at this avenue? I have to think cleverly and strategically what is the best use of our time, the community's time, with low cost but have huge gains."
Mcgarvey is proud to hold a bachelor and post-graduate degree in sport and leisure from Waikato University.
She has worked hard for five years leading a dedicated team in Huntly. She is now at a point she can start setting new goals.
"We are on the right path. The vision is almost complete. The list is being ticked off.
"We now have a presence, we now have a respectable space. Now if I was to walk out that door today some local that has trained for this role who knows the community could quite easily come in and it won't matter."
Mcgarvey wants the last 30 years of her life to be about reflection, giving, sharing and compromising. Making an impact on a grassroots level and her commitment to Maori health is still high on her agenda.
"I still want to do things for people. We seem to have found our way through education.
"We've found our pathway through traditional arts but for our health and wellbeing we don't have a pathway. We are very clinical. You get sick, you go to the doctor. Health and wellbeing is the priority." firstname.lastname@example.org
- Waikato Times
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