The team that looks for the positives

30 September 2021

Is it human nature to focus on the negatives? All Blacks coach Ian Foster would probably say yes, especially after the loss to Argentina in 2020. When the All Blacks slipped to third in the world rankings, people seemed to forget that for ten years in a row they were number one!

Darryl Crawford from the Ūawa Rugby Union and Sports Club would agree that just like those All Blacks, dads are too often remembered for their weaknesses rather than their strengths.

That’s partly what prompted Darryl to look for ways to support dads in his hometown to realise and build on their own strengths.

We wanted to create a safe space for dads to get together and share their thoughts, struggles and successes.

All about whanaungatanga

Once home to just rugby, Ūawa Sports Club is now the base for netball, softball, basketball and the hunting and fishing club. With its broader focus on whānau hauora, it seemed the perfect place for dads to gather.

With a space sorted, Darryl and the community started Pāpā Tū, Tamati Ora – Fathers in Arms in July 2019.

"This was a new experience for most dads to be putting themselves ‘out there’ and opening up to each other about their roles as fathers," Darryl says.

The regular gathering of pāpā has no set agenda, but kōrero flows freely.

We talk about practical things like showing our tamariki how much they’re loved, ways to help our partners feel more valued, and safe ways to deal with anger or frustration.

Dad and son hunting in Ūawa, Tolaga Bay East Coast
Dad and son hunting in Ūawa, Tolaga Bay East Coast

Out and about in the village

Part of the success has been the chance to get active outdoors, continuing the kōrero and building relationships while doing something they all enjoy.

"By making stronger hononga (connections) with other pāpā, we can now access new hunting spots. They share their hunting and fishing skills with each other and spend time with their tamariki safely alongside them," he says.

COVID-19 has taught them some interesting lessons too, in going back to basics sourcing kai from the wai and whenua. Darryl says being “isolated” can be how small rural towns are seen without ready access to the resources found in cities.

When you’re in the middle of a pandemic and access to those resources is lost, you come to realise the value of your own local knowledge, skills and networks.

Keeping it local and keeping it real

The success of Pāpā Tū, Tamati Ora has a lot to do with it being homegrown, led by local dads who are known and respected in their community.

"Being flexible and responsive to the needs of dads, looking for teaching moments when they arise and always keeping the parenting messages practical and understandable are also key to its success," says Darryl.

Mental wellbeing has improved for some, and a greater sense of connectedness has seen confidence grow.

Just like their confidence, new ideas are always growing and more pāpā are joining the team that always look for the positives.

Do you have a great idea?

This community project was made possible with support from the Tākai Local Initiative Fund. Get in touch if you have a great idea to make positive change for whānau in your community.

Get in touch