Once a week, a local Chatham Islands beach is filled with the sight and sounds of excited tamariki as they run around giving their best effort to playing sport.
Each Tuesday of this current term, around 40 enthusiastic tamariki arrive by bus to meet the islands' Sole Charge Constables Lucie and Will Joines who facilitate an afternoon of sports.
Lucie and Will started the Spring Sports Series initiative to build positive relationships with the islands tamariki and foster a mentoring role.
“We saw an opportunity to engage with the youth—be approachable to them and show Police in a positive light," says Lucie.
“We wanted the kids to get more active, work as a team and have fun while doing it. The natural outdoor paradise they live in is the perfect environment.”
For the tamariki participating each week, having a variety of sports to try out has been a real treat.
The sports played include volleyball, cricket, soccer, surf live saving, kī-o-rahi and touch rugby. These sports aren’t part of structured after-school activities, and previously they only had rugby running for 12 weeks on Saturday mornings during winter.
A lot of laughter and fun, and a bit of competition, is always guaranteed.
The afternoon concludes with a swim and a feed of sizzling sausages.
On the first day of the sports series, Lucie recalls being unsure about how many kids would turn up.
“I thought maybe we’d get 20 or 25. A bus load arrived of kids arrived and then another! All these kids in bus vests stampeding towards us on the beach and I thought, 'Oh my God, have I got enough sausages for everyone?'”
The response from the local community has been great.
Local Fisheries Officer George Ririnui regularly assists officers, either helping on the BBQ or taking the kids for a game. It’s been neat to see a few parents get involved too.
“We often get a lot of kudos from the community for working with the youth," says Lucie. "It’s one thing we can do, and we know that we’re making a positive change."