The premiere of documentary “Tell Me I Can’t” aired in Christchurch in January and detailed the journey of rangatahi taking part in the unique initiative ‘Bros For Change’.
Bros for Change introduces rangatahi in Te Waipounamu to Māori concepts, which leads them on a journey of self-discovery. The concepts help to increase their mana, confidence, health and wellbeing, and enables them to strengthen relationships that will help sustain their journey.
The six-week course progresses through three central pou or themes. The first pou is whakawhanaungatanga and takes place over a week “in the bush”, enabling the students to get to know one another and to establish the rōpū core values together. For the following four weeks, the boys follow a day-to-day schedule designed to focus on mind, body and spirit. At 9am every day, the rōpū is retrieved from their school – lateness is not tolerated. The days are filled with a combination of mixed martial arts training and fitness, taiaha, individual and group therapy, goal setting and self-development classes. The final week takes place on a marae and is themed ‘whānau’. Bros For Change then hosts whānau who wish to join the rōpū before a graduation ceremony.
It has been a dream come true for founders Jaye Pukepuke and Ben Murray to see their vision take shape. They saw the need through experience to take a holistic approach to the complex issues rangatahi face, in order to lead them on the path to success.
Jaye says people are eager to take part.
“Initially I put out a post on Facebook to let people know about the course we were about to start providing,” he says.
“Within days I had two schools wanting to take part and now we have a waiting list. It’s not about where kids are from, all schools can benefit”.
So far, graduates have been from Kaiapoi High School and Hillmorton High School in Christchurch, Linwood High School, and Haeata Community Campus in Aranui. The documentary follows several rangatahi tāne on their journey to graduation.
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu Board Chair, Trevor Taylor, says it is a privilege to support the kaupapa.
“Jaye and Ben have developed a unique approach to dealing with complex issues faced by rangatahi in the South Island,” he says.
“We see real long term value in investing in these types of initiatives because they provide opportunities for whānau to participate meaningfully in their culture. It connects them with the wider community and improves their overall health and wellbeing”.
“We first met Jaye when he participated in the Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu initiative development programme in 2014, which allowed Jaye to network, develop valuable business and community relationships and progress a great idea into reality."
After piloted camps for rangatahi tane in Christchurch in 2016, Jaye and Ben launched Bros For Change in 2017.