130921SPLTONY, 'Tony Pawa is a shining star in the Kaitaia community. Photo / Marilyn Pawa'
130921SPLTONY1, The photo Rachele Mathews posted to Facebook to thank him for his good deed. Photo / Rachele Mathews
A simple act of picking up litter on the way to school has sparked an outpouring of support for a young Kaitaia boy.
Eight-year-old Tony Pawa (Te Rarawa) was on his daily walk to the Redan Road school bus stop last Thursday when he was spotted with handfuls of rubbish.
Rachele Mathews (Te Rarawa-Whangape) said she was dropping her daughter to daycare when she spied Tony doing his bit for the environment.
She said while there were other older children present, she didn't believe the rubbish had come from them and was impressed by Tony's initiative.
Rachele said she felt compelled to thank Tony for being a good Samaritan and put a call-out on Facebook to find his parents.
"Kaitaia is such a small place which gets a lot of bad rap, not just around town but nationally as well, so seeing something positive like that was heartwarming," she said.
"When I saw Tony I thought that's so neat, what a good boy and wanted to thank him and publicly acknowledge him for his good deed."
Rachele said she couldn't see Tony's face as his back was turned and he was wearing a hoodie, so took a photo of him from behind.
She posted that photo on Facebook and said:
"Hi there Kaitaia. If this is your child, awesome parenting! Please pm me.
"This kid needs a hi-five, a massive hug and a reward. (I) saw him walking to school this morning on Redan Road, past a big gathering of college kids and his hands were full of rubbish he had picked up and took it to the bin.
"You young man, made my day, RESPECT!"
Shortly after her post, Rachele was flooded with 232 comments from locals praising Tony's efforts, saying he was a rangatahi (leader) of tomorrow, with many offering to send him a koha (donation).
One reader said, "You are simply amazing!! Thank you so much for being a tidy Kiwi. So thoughtful."
Another one said, "What a champion you are Tony. Proud of you mate, keep up the awesome mahi!"
Tony's Aunty Marilyn Pawa and mum Carlee Pawa saw the post and reached out to Rachele to let her know who Tony was.
The pair organised for Rachele to drop off some goodies and a koha from the community to Tony last Thursday afternoon.
Included in the gifts were a range of local items from Native Barbers, Shine-On Kaitaia, Te Hiku Hauora, Far North Surf Shop, lollies and $200 worth of cash donations.
Tony said he was very grateful to everybody for the gifts and felt very rich.
"I wanted to pick up the rubbish because that's just what I do all the time," he said.
"My mum taught me to do that so I got it from her.
"It made me really happy to get all this from everyone."
Aunty Marilyn and mum Carlee said they were extremely proud of their boy.
"I'm so proud of him and am grateful to all my whānau who have helped me raise him on my own, he's my miracle baby," Carlee said.
"We want to thank the community for their generosity and their kindness had touched our entire family," Marilyn said.