Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Pride of NZ: Couple give youngsters best chance

Group tries to provide solutions to social challenges and get community engaged

Rob and Zee Luisi founded Ranui 135 which has been helping youth in West Auckland for 12 years.
Rob and Zee Luisi founded Ranui 135 which has been helping youth in West Auckland for 12 years.

Community Spirit category: Giving young people a chance and encouraging them to do the best they can in life is what Auckland couple Rob and Zee Luisi are all about.

The pair are the founders of Ranui 135, a group established 12 years ago to help young people in the local and wider West Auckland area.

"It was put together to get the Ranui community more engaged. It was trying to provide solutions to social challenges at the time," Mr Luisi said.

"It's just trying to help the kids. We've got a really awesome bunch of people who can see the vision and can see the big picture."

The group is a branch of an existing community initiative - the Ranui Action Project - and runs various events, sports competitions, leadership camps and holiday programmes.

They are not based in a particular building, instead relying on local community halls, recreation centres, churches or parks to hold events.

Most of its staff work voluntarily.

In recent weeks, the Ranui and wider West Auckland community has been rocked by four tragic deaths - including the stabbing of Henderson dairy owner Arun Kumar last week.

Mr Luisi said they had helped hundreds of youngsters over the years but he acknowledged there was always work to do. "We've got some amazing young people and many who have come through who are now doing big things in sports, the arts or studying at university.

"We want kids to see those people and remember they came from the same neighbourhood as them."

- NZ Herald

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