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Mama Rai Brothers and Chris Morunga from Wiri Central School pictured with ex-pupils

One Love Te Wirihana (Wiri) hosted a Community Champions dinner to celebrate residents who are leading social change within their neighbourhood, check out the photos here.

Pacific Innovation Lead, Tofilau Ah Chong, said it was a chance to connect residents and build community relations.

“It was a great night to get to know each other more and talk about the changes we want to see in the community. Some of the guests were long time residents reconnecting. Others were new to the neighbourhood, meeting for the first time,” says Tofilau.

“It was also a chance for us to celebrate leaders for their hard work and commitment to Wiri as well as showcase the talent that exists there,” she adds.

The first recipient was ‘Mama’ Rai Brothers, acknowledged for her commitment to educating the children of Wiri.

“I moved to Wiri 37 years ago and have been teaching at Wiri Central School for 25 years. Wiri is where I brought up my six children and even though they’ve moved, my passion is still for the kids in Wiri,” says Mama Rai.

“I just want to encourage our kids to follow through with their education. It’s the key to empowering themselves,” she adds.

Eltre Oaariki, an active member of Do Good Feel Good, was awarded for driving social change within the neighbourhood

“I’m known for riding my electric scooter in the community and doing flyer drops for activations,” says Eltre.

“I do it because there’s a lot changing in Wiri. I just don’t want that to change the people here. Our culture and beliefs are in the people so I want that to stay true,” she adds.

Mele Ula, a personal trainer and boxer, was recognised for creating exercise classes at Wiri Stream Reserve and advocating for healthier lifestyles for whānau.

“I’m born and raised in Wiri. It’s where my heart and passion for training came from. I’ve trained at the park, home, the streets; it’s something I love to do,” says Mele.

Mele Ula, a personal trainer and boxer, is an advocate for better health and wellbeing in her community

“I want to inspire my neighbourhood to get out there as I know it’s where anyone can train,” she said.

Hasani Kavana is a youth leader for Teriti Moana (Cook Island performance group) and is known for consistently showing up for his peers and community.

“It’s about getting out there and consistently showing up for your community and doing stuff. I used to just stay home every weekend but getting involved with what’s happening in your area can open up lots of different opportunities and experiences,” says Hasani.

Wiri Central School was also recognised for educating children and whānau as well as working with organisations to ensure the needs of families are met.

The award was received by Mōkai Āwhina (Māori unit) Leader of Learning, Chris Morunga, who has been teaching at the school for 20 years.

“To Wiri, don’t worry about what other people say about the community. Believe in yourself and family.

Give education a good shot and see what happens. It’s a real pathway to advance not only yourself but also your whānau. You can do it, no matter where you’re from,” says Chris.

One Love South Auckland is a concept which aims to build social infrastructure in neighbourhoods so that residents can become active participants in the social and economic uplift of the area. 

For more information on One Love Te Wirihana, please contact Tofilau at: [email protected]