Stories of Community from Marists across New Zealand

 

If you were to drive from Taupo to Te Urewera, you would pass an inconspicuous road on your left that leads 5km to Kaingaroa Forest Village. Once a thriving forestry settlement of 2500 people, this town has faced significant struggle since the privatisation of New Zealand's forestry sector in the early 1980's. The 400 people who still live in Kaingaroa today inhabit a mostly forgotten place with few jobs, high crime rates and significant gang involvement. Kaingaroa Forest School however, stands as an oasis among the derelict and graffitied buildings. Mike Jones, the school's Principal came back to Kaingaroa in 2002 in obedience to a calling he felt on his life. Since the first Young Marist Neighbours programme in 2007 Mike has hosted us each year. We sleep Marae style in a school classroom and spend our days exploring the forest, a boxing gym, a Māori healing clinic, the village itself and others like it.

I never imagined a place like this existed in New Zealand. It is like a different country to the one I thought I grew up in...
— Hamish, Christchurch