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Drive for good lives

A Wairarapa disability organisation is seeking community support to “enable good lives” for its participants.

The Mahi Tahi Tatou Charitable Trust was set up in 2021 to support people with disabilities in Wairarapa – and to empower disabled school leavers to participate in their communities through education, employment, creative and sporting opportunities.

The trust runs a day programme from its Masterton premises, as well as several social enterprises, a drop-in centre, and advocacy and information services for disabled locals and whānau.

The organisation, previously reliant on grants and donations, is now holding a fundraising drive to help it cover operational costs and continue providing accessible services.

Fundraisers include a pop-up shop, Givealittle page, raffles, market stalls – and “anything else we can think of”, trust chairwoman Rebecca Stevens said.

Stevens established the trust to create opportunities for disabled rangatahi once they leave school – particularly for those excluded by other providers or who had struggled during the covid pandemic.

“The inital trustees all had children who were 10 to 12 years old. We thought we had about 10 years to get organised – but the need is now,” she said.

“The services we provide are either free or below cost, as we want to meet the needs of people who have fallen through the cracks.

“During covid, a lot of services were reduced or ceased, and many have not started back up again. We’re working with school leavers who were turned away from other services because they were ‘too hard’ or didn’t come with enough funding

“We need to be sustainable in the long term – so we’re looking for new ways to fund our organisation.”

The trust holds its day programme three days a week – where participants can learn life skills, work towards finding employment, attend weekly crafting groups, and do woodwork projects at the on-site workshop.

The organisation has also incorporated a lawn mowing and gardening business to help support disabled people into employment.

The trust runs a line dancing class in partnership with Wairarapa Age Concern and a social ten pin bowling group – as well as managing a bowling team for Special Olympics Wairarapa – and is setting up a weekly programme on Arrow FM.

As part of its fundraising drive, the trust has established a pop-up shop in the old Percy’s Mart on Queen St, which Stevens hoped would eventually provide volunteering and employment opportunities for disabled people.

Stevens said the initial funds raised would go towards a wheelchair accessible vehicle – “so we can get more people to community events and activities”.

For more information about fundraising for the trust, email [email protected] or search Mahi Tahi Tatou Charitable Trust on Facebook.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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