Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga Boys up early for Pasifika Rise

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Monday mornings are hard enough for most people, but for a group of 40 Pasifika boys from Tauranga Boys College, 6am starts for fitness, inspirational talks and breakfast are worth it.

The programme started a few months ago with just one student, but yesterday morning the Tauranga Boys gymnasium was full of teenagers performing intensive fitness tasks for an hour, with the upstairs busy with volunteers making breakfast with food donated from Bidvest Foods.

Teacher Rob Warner said the initiative was started to raise the achievement of the boys at the college.

He said the catch-phrase was, "if they can get up at 6am on a Monday morning, they can do anything".

Ati Aaifou-Olive, who spent yesterday morning putting the teenagers through their paces with shuttle-runs and games, thought up the idea with his wife, Charlie Aaifou-Olive, and parent Naomi Gardiner-Hano.

"It's a whole effort, its the school teachers, the principal, just everyone just playing a part."

He said he remembered the opportunities he had been given growing up, and wanted to make sure he gave something back.

"Some of the kids need to be inspired," he said.

Mr Aaifou-Olive said many of the bigger cities had similar initiatives for Pasifika youth, but there was not a lot in Tauranga.

"The biggest thing is having the attitude to get up in the morning. When you leave school it gets harder, you've got to start now."

Tauranga Boys College head boy Elijah Taula, 17, said Pasifika Rise had been beneficial for the students.

"We are all getting closer and building brotherhood," he said.

"It's getting more and more important to the boys.

'All the boys are really starting to enjoy and it's becoming part of everyone's weekly routine."

Volunteer and mother Nikki Taula said the support from the school for Pasifika Rise was "incredible".

"It can only be positive when you have a programme like this for the boys."

She said they went through about 120 eggs, four loaves of bread and 80 sausages for the hungry boys every Monday.

Geography teacher Mitch Zandstra said the boys "love it".

"It's a good start to the week," he said.

A different teacher would volunteer each week to pick up boys who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Pasifika members of the community gave speeches to the boys, which included financial advisers, those from the health sector, and sporting and law enforcement.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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