Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa students Iraia Matthews, Maioha Riwai-Couch, Matua Davidson, and youth development co-ordinator Cherie McNamara from Connecting Communities. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Emily Ireland

Children who play at McJorrow Park in Masterton East will have access to all kinds of sports equipment thanks to a new youth-led initiative.

As of last week, children can freely borrow balls and sports gear from a pouaka hākina (sports box), installed by a group of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa students.

The youths were supported by Connecting Communities Wairarapa, and Masterton District Council.

Connecting Communities youth development co-ordinator Cherie McNamara said the group of students came up with ideas and initiatives for their area, “to meet needs, create opportunities, connect with their community, or enhance spaces”.

“One of their initiatives was pouaka hākina, which is a sports box where kids can have access to balls and anything that will encourage physical activity,” McNamara said.

“If anyone in the community has any unused sports equipment, or old balls they don’t use anymore, they can come down and leave it in the box to become community equipment.

“The idea is for people to use the equipment and the equipment to then go back, but these guys have said if the equipment doesn’t go back, then that’s not a loss because at least it is still being used by someone in the community who needs it.

“They see it as a positive.”

The box was made by the Henley Men’s Shed.