Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Otara plans how to spend its $8m

Otara is one of the nation's poorest urban centres. Photo / APN
Otara is one of the nation's poorest urban centres. Photo / APN

Otara Health believes the money it receives from Owen Glenn as part of his $8 million donation to the community will enable the organisation to achieve its long-term goals.

The businessman and philanthropist yesterday announced he would donate $80 million towards tackling family abuse and violence throughout New Zealand.

The South Auckland suburb of Otara would be the "pilot" community to implement a series of programmes.

It will receive an immediate donation of $8 million from the Glenn Family Foundation.

The programmes will include setting up scholarships for Otara students who are the first members of their family to enter into tertiary education or training, building a 1.6km cycling and exercise track in Ngati Otara Park, Supporting Otara Health in developing a Families Centre and providing a range of programmes and services for the community.

Mr Glenn spoke of Otara Health as being one of the "cornerstone organisations" for transforming what is one of the country's poorest urban centres.

Otara Health chief executive Ingrid Minnett said the organisation had struggled with unsustained short-term funding.

"Governments change - they chop and change, the flavour of the month, the priorities," she said.

"Owen Glenn's coming in for the long haul and he's allowing the community to recognise what the problems are, not somebody outside the area."

The most significant development as a result of Mr Glenn's donation would be a families centre - a community hub where families could visit and get support and advice about antenatal care, nutrition, quality parenting, budgeting and other issues.

Support would also be available to deal with substance abuse and family violence.

"We'll have a Families Centre in Otara where we can put all of these services together in one place and work together with our partners and colleagues and really get things moving" Ms Minnett said.

A key focus for Otara Health was in prevention.

"We're looking at how we can start at the moment of conception in supporting the family in understanding child development, child growth.

"Those first three years are critical for a child's development so we're looking at what support's needed and how we can support the foundation years, the family years, and extend that through into the first years of schools."

The organisation would also try to address the high number of teenage parents in the community.

"Young people becoming parents don't really understand the role of parenting and what it involves. It's difficult to break that inter-generational cycle of poverty that people get trapped into, which often starts with young parents, so that's one of the things that we'll be working on."

Another big issue which Mr Glenn's donation could help address was overcrowding in Otara.

He announced the donations to community leaders on Tuesday.

THE AIMS

* Support Otara Health to develop a Families Centre and to provide and co-ordinate a range of programmes and services for the community.

* Support Eastern Women's Refuge and its associated Men's Caucus to establish a Men's House and programmes for violent men.

* Work with the Warriors and Hockey New Zealand to support young people's engagement and learning in schools in Otara.

* Work with business and the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board to construct a 1.6km cycling and exercise track in Ngati Otara Park.

* Introduce a "Coaching Boys into Men" programme for coaches and trainers to help boys understand that violence on or off the field is not okay.

* Support Sistema Aotearoa to teach children to play music.

* Support Otara Schools interested in introducing or expanding e-learning.

* Support the Garden to Table programme, which teaches how to grow vegetables and fruit and to cook the produce.

* Support the Young Enterprise Trust to offer practical enterprise, entrepreneurship and financial literacy programmes to students.

* Support the Springboard Trust with its work providing leadership training for school principals in low-decile areas.

* Support Teach First New Zealand efforts to increase the supply of science, math and English teachers to high schools in low-decile areas.

* Set up scholarships for Otara students who are the first family members to enter tertiary education or training.

- APNZ

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