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Students came together to Mihi Whakatau the new Regional Lead of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Southern (GDFS), Anna Gaitt. The event was attended by members of GDF’s board, their dedicated staff along with students from Ascot Community School, Wallacetown Primary, and Invercargill Middle School, and was honoured that Gary Davis, Principal of Te Wharekura o Arowhenua agreed to be Kaikōrero.
A Mihi Whakatau holds profound significance, symbolising the gradual process of uniting the visitors (Manuhiri) with the home people (Tangata Whenua) by removing the tapu (sacredness) of the newcomers. It is a beautiful representation of the unity and harmony that the Graeme Dingle Foundation aims to bring into the lives of young students.
Sarah Read, Invercargill Middle School Principal commented on the significance of the celebration.
“We were truly honoured to be part of the Mihi Whakatau and welcome Anna to our community. The Graeme Dingle Foundation has been an invaluable partner for our school, helping to instil resilience, confidence, and character in our students through their various programs. We have witnessed remarkable transformations in our students’ lives, and we eagerly look forward to the positive impact Anna will bring to further enhance the Foundation’s influence.”
The sentiment was echoed by Lisa Brady, Wallacetown School Principal
“The Mihi Whakatau was a poignant reminder of the strong sense of community that the Graeme Dingle Foundation fosters in our region. The Foundation’s commitment to empowering young minds and nurturing their potential is commendable. We are immensely grateful for their support in promoting mental well-being, leadership skills, and positive attitudes among our students. It was a pleasure to participate in such a meaningful celebration.”
Regional General Manager Anna Gaitt commented on the impact of the programs.
‘Since its inception, the Graeme Dingle Foundation has been making a remarkable impact on schools and communities across the South, the mahi we do is a true community effort as we work alongside our generous funders to support our youth. Through evidence-based programs like Kiwi Can, Stars, and Career Navigator, they have empowered countless tamariki and rangatahi to overcome challenges and set positive pathways for their future. It is my honour to lead this organisation forward and to be part of the journey and future of next generation”.
Deputy Chair, Dean Addie, said it was a privilege to be part of an organisation that makes such profound impacts on the lives of our tamariki and rangatahi. “Watching the kids perform waiata was really special as kids are the reason we do this” said Addie.
The new Regional Lead has a wealth of experience and enthusiasm, and the schools are eagerly looking forward to working together with the Foundation to make an even more significant difference in the lives of their students.
The Mihi Whakatau was a heartwarming testament to the power of community and collaboration in supporting the youth’s growth and development. The Graeme Dingle Foundation continues to shine as a beacon of hope, guiding young minds to a brighter future.