Being in their home bubbles was no barrier for Taranaki's Big Brothers and Big Sisters during the alert level 4 lockdown.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Taranaki is a charitable organisation committed to building healthy futures for Taranaki's tamariki through mentoring friendships.

The programme matches children aged 6 to 11 with adult mentors in a professionally and culturally supported one-to-one relationship.

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Over the course of a year, they meet once a week, building trust and friendship. Some matches continue together for many years, building a strong relationship over the time.

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In Taranaki there are currently more than 100 volunteers matched with over 100 tamariki across the region.

Brenda Buchanan, the Big Brothers Big Sisters programme mentoring co-ordinator for Stratford, Eltham, Hawera and Opunake, says their volunteer Big Brothers and Big Sisters didn't let Covid-19 restrictions stop them supporting their honorary siblings.

"Lockdown has stopped a lot of things but our awesome Big Brother and Big Sister volunteer mentors gave Covid-19 the cold shoulder, refusing to let it stop mentoring. Our mentor/mentees (tuakana/teinas) have been catching up during lockdown via phone, messenger, zoom, email and Facetime apps."

As well as catching up virtually, many of them also had a go at creating some artwork for the Big Brothers Big Sisters national art competition which ran during lockdown.

The competition asked the "littles", the children matched with a volunteer, to draw, or artistically create in some way, their "big", the volunteers who spends time with them each week.

So popular was the competition it then opened up for the "bigs" to send in their artwork depicting their "little" as well. Hundreds of entries flooded in from around the country, including plenty from Taranaki.

Big Sister Donna and her Little Sister Riley used this photo, taken at their one year match anniversary, to inspire some lockdown artwork.
Big Sister Donna and her Little Sister Riley used this photo, taken at their one year match anniversary, to inspire some lockdown artwork.

Stratford based match Donna and Riley had a go, using a photograph taking from their one year match anniversary as the inspiration for their drawings.

Little Sister Riley's artistic translation of the photo.
Little Sister Riley's artistic translation of the photo.
Big Sister Donna's artistic version of the photo.
Big Sister Donna's artistic version of the photo.

Little Sister Amy had a go at drawing her Big Sister match, Julia, submitting a photo of herself holding up her completed artwork for the competition.

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Little Sister Amy drew a picture of her and her Big Sister Julia.
Little Sister Amy drew a picture of her and her Big Sister Julia.

Brenda says every entry was creative and well thought out.

"What amazing talent we have in our community."

The judges certainly agreed, and one Taranaki match were singled out, with Big Sister Nicola's drawing of her Little Sister Emma winning the overall runner-up prize nationally in the "bigs" category.