The first birthday of a local programme supporting children was celebrated by the community with a special guest.

One year of Kiwi Can was celebrated recently at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, with Sir Graeme Dingle and Jo-anne Wilkinson, Lady Dingle, attending.

Kiwi Can is a Graeme Dingle Foundation programme supporting children to learn that what they have inside is greater than any obstacle.

It is an interactive lesson about values, delivered to every student in Kiwi Can schools every week throughout the school year.

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Kiwi Can Rotorua is currently working with Kaitao Intermediate, Sunset Primary School, Horohoro School and Mamaku School, with expansion to other schools planned.

Megan Kusabs, Graeme Dingle Foundation Rotorua regional manager, says supporters, people from partnership schools, sponsors and foundation staff gathered for drinks and nibbles.

There was a 30-minute presentation with speakers, and Kaitao Intermediate pupils had an interactive session with Kiwi Can leaders.

"It was a nice thing to stop and celebrate."

Kusabs says a lot went into getting Kiwi Can off the ground in Rotorua, and it was something that had been worked on for the past two to three years.

"We want to be here for a long time.

"We would like to expand Kiwi Can to take on another school. We are looking to funding opportunities to allow us to do that expansion."

She says Rothbury Insurance Brokers' local team helped with logistics and sponsored the event.

Kiwi Can team with Kaitao Intermediate pupils, Sir Graeme and Lady Dingle and Todd Mountfort of Rothbury Insurance Brokers at the celebration. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi Can team with Kaitao Intermediate pupils, Sir Graeme and Lady Dingle and Todd Mountfort of Rothbury Insurance Brokers at the celebration. Photo / Supplied

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick was at the celebrations, and says she and Dingle discussed a range of things at the celebration.

These included their real concerns about youth engagement with an education pathway and the hard to budge Neet (youth not in employment, education or training) statistics locally, family violence reporting and suicide rates.

She says Dingle is keen to be involved with a local leadership group and sees great potential for Kiwi Can as one solution.

"He liked the focus of our Child Equity project with Sunset Primary School and expressed potential for this to be extended.

"Sir Graeme is an inspiring leader who obviously has a real impact in getting stuff done.

"He expressed great pleasure in turning around those who are struggling to find the curriculum relevant and are at risk of drifting away and becoming a statistic."

Steve believes it will be of great value for him to meet the Working Together group, which provides co-operative responses to addressing community issues and needs.

Dingle says it felt special to be celebrating one year of Kiwi Can in Rotorua.

He says it was particularly special because he met up with Chadwick and they agreed to hatch a plan, particularly in an effort to cut down negative youth statistics that are "haunting us at the moment".

Dingle says it is not just about the Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes, but more a matter of trying to join up the dots.

"I think there's too much activity that isn't linked to other stuff that's going on ... people trying to do their own thing without co-ordinating with others."

He says each school has a unique set of issues at any one time, and at some point there are children who learn to bully and so then bullying becomes an issue in the school.

Kiwi Can can wipe out bullying by teaching children things like respect for each other and property, he says.

Dingle says Kiwi Can is not the only programme his foundation runs, there are many more.

"The important thing for us is to make sure kids are supported right through their schooling until they find some direction, and that's what we want to achieve here in Rotorua."

Sunset Primary pupil Precious Hape, 8, said she feels happy and excited when Kiwi Can comes to class because it is fun.

"We have lots of fun when we do fun games. The Kiwi Can people give awards to people who try to be good."

Pupil Anaru Todd, 8, also says Kiwi Can is fun. She enjoys the energiser game at the start and singing the Kiwi Can goodbye song.

"We learn to be friendly to other people."