Not so long ago, Oranga’s Te Papapa Rugby Club walls were hung with beer posters. Now they are covered with new images – posters of the players delivering powerful messages about being dads.
The players have also become icons for family values in the wider community of Oranga and Royal Oak. During the Rugby World Cup, the rugby club and the Oranga Community Centre used billboards at the busy Royal Oak roundabout to link rugby’s team values with family values.
The posters and billboards are just two ways the Oranga Community Centre, the rugby players and local churches are spreading positive family messages in their community. They are supported by the Ministry of Social Development’s SKIP (Strategies with Kids, Information for Parents) programme.
Team values – family values
John Faamausili is the rugby player in the poster grinning up at the mud-stained boy perched on his shoulders. The poster reads my strength will carry you.
John and his family also featured on the one of the club’s Rugby World Cup billboards, captioned team values – family values.
The idea for the rugby club posters was born when Oranga Community Centre manager Rochelle Thorne was trying to reach local dads with SKIP’s positive parenting messages. The obvious answer was to work with the Te Papapa Rugby Club across the sports field from the Community Centre. At brainstorming workshops the men asked: “What is the most powerful thing we can do for our kids?” Out of that came the key messages for the posters.
“All the boys really bought into it,” John Faamausili says. “We thought about what we could do to be better dads, improve our family values and what standards our kids ought to be able to expect from us.”
The players brought their families to a Saturday game for a photo shoot.
“It showed another side to the guys,” says John. “Rather than these big tough players on the field, here was just another guy with his kids. That’s the softer side the posters were portraying.
“It puts a positive light on being a dad committed to your family. It encourages dads to be more involved and spend time with their kids, whether it is watching the game or kicking a ball around.”
Growing up in a Pacific Island family, John says he experienced the traditional physical discipline that was culturally correct for his parents.
“It was what they did back then, but when I had my own family I did not want my kids to go through that.”
Larger than life on the billboard at Royal Oaks, with a go-to Facebook link, John and wife Jackie managed the Facebook page with parenting tips, personal stories, articles and discussion, gaining 200 friends during the Rugby World Cup.
“We’re just using rugby to get the message out in the community.”
Te Erena e Te Hou te Kawenata church pastor Masi Faifo encountered SKIP’s parenting messages through the Oranga Community Centre about two years ago. It was not long after he first arrived in New Zealand from Samoa.
“It was the first time I had heard these teachings. Something new happened in my heart. I said ‘I think I am running my family wrong.’”
Masi began to share the new ideas on parenting with his church members, and invited his church elders to SKIP meetings at the Community Centre.
“In our culture, a father is very authoritarian. When I said something, that was that. No one else could speak.
“Now there is more laughter and sharing in our family – and it is not lack of manners.
“It’s about not shouting. It’s about speaking with love and warmth rather than giving orders. I’m trying hard and I love it. My children are happier and that makes me happy.”
During the Rugby World Cup last year, Masi’s church teamed up with the Oranga Community Centre and the nearby Life Church to run family game screenings. They mixed the game watching with positive family messages and activities.
Community Centre manager Rochelle says people responded with deep and honest discussion, especially after teenagers staged short dramas to show the difference between positive and negative parenting.
“We gave people the opportunity to talk about what they had seen,” says Masi. “And then I would ask them to think about how their own families were going.”
To keep the momentum going, rugby players and Pasifika church ministers gathered to discuss differences between discipline and punishment and how to spread the knowledge through their neighbourhoods and networks.
Rochelle says in a community that revolves around sport and church, it is about finding key people with the energy and networks to inspire others to nurture children with love, limits and boundaries.
SKIP supports communities to inspire parents to bring up their children using love, nurture, limits and boundaries. SKIP:
- Provides free parenting resources for communities, organisations and parents funds community organisations and projects to support local parents
- works with national organisations to build their capacity to support parents.
SKIP is a nationwide network of people, community groups, government agencies, workplaces and national non-government organisations. A team at the Ministry of Social Development supports SKIP.