neetWork to seal the cracks and provide opportunities for young people is paying dividends for the Wairoa Young Achievers Trust (WYAT) and the wider community.

About to enter the fourth year of a Ministry of Social Development contract, WYAT is steadily building momentum in its bid to get youth back to school or into some form of training.

Work and Income Regional Contracts Manager, David Caldwell, said the contract has been instrumental in providing effective and relevant support for Wairoa youth.

“The work is very important. The young people in Wairoa who need additional assistance are getting this in their own communities, delivered by local people who understand their needs,” he said.

“The relationship between the Trust and MSD is strong, as is the link with Wairoa College,” he said.

WYAT Trustee and contract administrator Denise Eaglesome is on the ground at the college, working with 72 young people who would otherwise have been out of school and out of work, with low to no qualifications.

“It’s not about getting them jobs. It’s about getting them into training so that they have a minimum of level 2 NCEA or equivalent.”

Those involved in the programme fall into different categories. There are 51 NEET clients (Not in Education, Employment or Training), and 21 who are receiving an independent youth benefit or youth parent benefit. NEET clients do not receive a benefit and are not obliged to be in any form of education or training. All are aged from 16 to 19 years.

“Our young mothers who have returned to school are working towards their early childhood education qualification. Once they turn 19, they could leave and take up a different benefit, but most are opting to stay on and finish their education. This is a testament to the success of the programme,” Ms Eaglesome said.

“For the bulk of our young people, it’s about wanting to do it. Most of them don’t receive a benefit so it is clear that these kids want to be here and are capable of following a path, even if its not in mainstream education.”

Much of the success can be attributed to Ms Eaglesome being based at the school, rather than elsewhere in the community.

“I am fortunate to be here, as I’m right on the scene. This means less kids fall through the cracks.”

WYAT is not working in isolation. Close relationships have been formed with other youth service providers in the community to create a comprehensive support system and ensure all opportunities are tapped into.

Training courses are varied, from elderly care and computing, through to carpentry and hair dressing – Ms Eaglesome makes it her business to know what is available and relevant to the young people involved in the programme.

Ms Eaglesome said the recent Sir James Carroll Walkway project serves as an example of how the programme can work. Twelve people, including six NEET clients, worked on the enhancement project and achieved level 2 qualifications in civil infrastructure, while some went on to gain employment as a result of their performance.

“You only have to look around the community to see what has been achieved. Some of our former clients have gone on to find work here, while others have gone onto further training or employment outside the district.”

Anyone wanting to know more about the WYAT programme is urged to contact Ms Eaglesome at Wairoa College.

For more information:

Denise Eaglesome
Wairoa Young Achievers Trust
Youth Services Contract Co-ordinator
06 838 8303/021835794
Photo caption: Teacher Laleshni Kumar guides Mere Spooner, Dream Wheeler and Peterina Munro, who are participants in the Wairoa Young Achievers Trust’s programme for young mothers.


The Wairoa Young Achievers Trust was formed in September 2004, with an aim to support the youth of Wairoa in a significant and meaningful way. Since then, the Trust has gone on to establish links with local, regional and central government organisations and other service providers for the benefit of our young people. WYAT acts as a funding body for young individuals and groups to allow them to compete or contribute in sporting, academic or cultural activities, and for community projects. It also administers programmes within the community that strengthen the capacity of our youth to contribute positively to society, for example CACTUS, and the youth services training programme. The Trust itself is administered by volunteer Trustees from within the community who offer a wealth of experience and knowledge.