Te Maori: Fully committed to Bully Free

By Greg Taipari

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Bully Free Bro co-ordinator Warren Tumarae says he knows what it's like to be bullied. Photo/Ben Fraser.
Bully Free Bro co-ordinator Warren Tumarae says he knows what it's like to be bullied. Photo/Ben Fraser.

The only bullying Warren Tumarae wants to see is the words written on a T-shirt.

A Tuhoe and Te Arawa descendant, Mr Tumarae is the man behind the anti-bullying programme Bully Free Bro.

Based at Te Waiariki Purea Trust, the programme targets rangatahi (young people) through media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as using fashionable T-shirts and caps with the BFB emblem on them. The aim is to reduce bullying and offer youth a safe community to thrive in.

Mr Tumarae said he had also enlisted people from throughout the community to tell their stories through a three-minute video clip.

He said the clips had proved popular with rangatahi, who were commenting on the Bully Free Bro Facebook page.

As a youngster Mr Tumarae experienced the trauma of being bullied first hand.

"I was really soft as a kid. My dad tried to harden me up by trying to throw me into rugby," Mr Tumarae said.

"But it wasn't my thing. I played hockey, I played tennis and a lot of things like that.

"That really did not go down well in my day, with all the Maori boys, all my cousins, teasing me."

He has also experienced the other side of bullying.

"I think we've all been bullied and we've all bullied in some form. I bullied my sister and I was really stink to her.

"Now, I've made my apologies over the years and we have a really good relationship."

Mr Tumarae said it took a lot of hard work to get the programme off the ground but it was important to get as many people as possible involved in the project.

"I did a lot of brainstorming stuff and looked at how to get the engagement by using key figures in our community and using the types of things that kids are interested in.

"Not just focusing on a particular group of kids being bullied at school. I thought it was a community issue.

"I went out to businesses, I went to schools and sports clubs and addressed all the different forms of bullying and just tried to get the community involved."

The father of three said feedback had been positive and the programme had been helped by the likes of Te Ururoa Flavell and Temuera Morrison who had shared their experiences.

"I knew that Te Ururoa was involved with the White Ribbon so he was an obvious person.

"Even with Temuera Morrison, I had a relationship before [this programme] with him, I think he's awesome."

If you want to learn more about Bully Free Bro check out their Facebook page www.facebook.com/BullyFreeBro.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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