Waikato Iwi backs KidsCan to help kids in schools

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

In a landmark one-year partnership, Waikato-Tainui is contributing $100,000 to help KidsCan provide food and health items across 23 schools in the Waikato and South Auckland. 

Te Ara Taura Chair, Rukumoana Schaafhausen says the pilot collaboration aligns with its strategic priorities to support its 72,000 members.

Schaafhausen says a historic partnership was forged today to ensure hundreds of children get the best start at school.

“We wanted to go into kura that had a large Waikato-Tainui population,” she says.  

“So the challenge is upon us as the tribal executive to do more. This is just the beginning of a journey and absolutely our whānau deserve the best”.

KidsCan provides food to 32,000 students per week in 718 schools nationwide. It also supplies those schools with raincoats, shoes, socks and basic health and hygiene items.

KidsCan CEO and co-founder, Julie Chapman says, “$100,000 is really significant because it enables us to continue our work but also in those 23 schools to offer more and intensify what we do to support those most vulnerable children”.

For the last five years, KidsCan has been operating at Papakura Intermediate.

“For us it means our children knowing that our Iwi invest in them financially,” says principal Rebecca Kaukau, “But also every other level and them being able to have the things that they need like shoes, coats, kai, and families knowing they have that support”.

All the schools which will benefit from the collaboration have high percentages of Māori and Waikato-Tainui tribal members, including Papakura Intermediate, where nearly 80 percent are Māori with a significant number from the Waikato.

“The process though, required due diligence around the organisation and then Te Ara Taura had to consider is there alignment with our strategic priorities, is it in align with the principals of the Kiingitanga, said Schaafhausen.  “And the decision was easy, absolutely yes”.

KidsCan is hopeful that other iwi will consider collaborating with the charity.