Despite not being able to do activities in person together over the recent weeks, an organisation's special matches got creative to keep communication going.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rotorua co-ordinator Darryl Parker said the big brothers and sisters stayed in touch with their little brothers and sisters in all sorts of ways, from good old-fashioned letter writing to Zoom calls.

He said others downloaded games and activities they could do together online. Over Easter, some of the mentors dropped off Easter Eggs to their "littlies" letterboxes.

"Nicki and I, as Rotorua staff members, kept in touch with our families and mentors to support them in any way we could and facilitate ways in which they could stay connected."


He said members from other BBBS branches around the country created resources which they also made available to families and mentors, and were really useful.

"To a certain degree it was frustrating because the matches are used to getting out and doing activities together in the Rotorua community, but on the other hand, it allowed for creativity to keep the relationship alive and has meant they have experienced a very unique and challenging situation together.

"This is formative and significant in the growth of any relationship."

He said now that the country was at alert level 2, everybody was keen to get together again.

"However, we have a series of safety guidelines compliant with level 2 restrictions to keep everybody safe and happy.

"This is another opportunity for mentors to model safe and positive behaviour to their children and young people."

Darryl said he was constantly getting inquiries for mentoring and often unable to provide because of a lack of mentors - "The more the better."

Steve Watene has been matched with his "little brother" Grant for about four months.


He says during the Covid-19 lockdown he and Grant have stayed in contact by having a kōrero over Messenger calling every Tuesday.

Pre Covid-19, every Tuesday Steve would go to Grant's school - Sunset Primary School - between 11.30am and 12.30pm, where they would normally walk and talk, and do different activities around the school's pump track.

"Most times we will just be talking and it's great."

He says he will not be able to be back at the school until June, so will carry on calling Grant each week.

He says being part of the programme and a mentor to Grant has been great.

"I think it's been good for both of us. I really enjoy it and had been meaning to apply for the programme for a long time.

"It's always great to help someone and being able to help Grant in some way is pretty rewarding."

Steve is looking forward to when he will be able to visit Grant in person at school again.

"It will be cool, we will probably just pick up where we left off. I enjoy it and must admit it is a nice distraction. It's great to be able to do something and make a difference"