Every month a group of men – of all ages – meet at a local coffee shop in Wairarapa with their children and grandchildren, inadvertently attracting friendly smiles from passers-by.
The group, called “Wai Dadz”, is organised by Kidz Need Dadz Wellington (KND Wellington), a charitable trust set up to help dads strengthen relationships with their children through support, education and fun.
The group of dads get the opportunity to talk freely without judgement about life in general, share advice and support each other in challenges they may be facing at the time, all while having a cuppa and letting their children socialise too.
As well as Wai Dadz, KND Wellington, which is an affiliate of other KND organisations nationally, offer a raft of support services in the form of fathers’ education, field worker assistance and of course Father’s Day activities in Wairarapa and Palmerston North.
Their mission is ‘Strengthening father/child relationships through support, education and fun’ – their kōrero is ‘Ka-oranga te-tangata, Ka-oranga te-whanau, Ka-ora tonu-nga hapori-katoa’ (Healthy Men, Healthy Families, Healthy Communities). Collectively, in the past year KND Wellington has assisted 430 fathers through their programmes.
KND Wellington Chair, Stuart Miller, says the trust is one of few agencies in the region specialising in supporting men, whilst keeping children as a central focus.
“By providing fathers with support, counselling and education we hope to impact two problems of national importance – intergenerational issues and the male suicide rate,” Stuart says.
“We receive referrals from a variety of social, health and legal agencies as well as self-referrals. We can help with parenting, relationship separation, assistance with legal advice and mentoring, information on health and wellbeing services for men, and events for dads to meet up.
“We also support other men who are victims of sexual and/or violent abuse, usually as children. Such is the demand for our services KND Wellington is expanding to meet them.”
As well as supporting fathers and children, KND Wellington educate the broader community about the need for dads to be involved with their children.
“Kids need two loving and supportive parents in their lives – whether the family all lives under the same roof or not.”
Eastern and Central Community Trust were glad to assist KND Wellington with a grant of $10,000 towards project costs in 2019 as it aligns with many of their strategic funding intentions, including increased community participation, community resilience and equity of access to key support services.
Luke, a dad from Wairarapa acknowledges that rural isolation is a major issue in his community, especially for new fathers and says grants like those from ECCT go a long way to make a positive difference.
“When guys become new dads, they have less opportunities to connect,” Luke says.
“With support and funding from ECCT we have been able to grow our dads support group (Wai Dadz) to more than 100 members, organise more events and provide real support. It’s been a huge help.”