The Pride Project: changing lives of whānau in South Auckland

It was such a humbling and emotional experience to meet with Melissa Moore, the Hope Navigators, volunteers and community at The Pride Project’s Whare Tautoko (Community House) in Manurewa when we visited.

What an amazing group of people! As we sat and listened to their stories there was not a dry eye in the room. Each individual narrative was one of hope, resilience and overcoming some of the worst things life could throw at you. These amazing men and women have turned their lives around and now are helping others —literally saving the lives of their people in Manurewa. These are stories of breaking intergenerational cycles of abuse, unemployment, neglect and addiction.

You can click here to watch each of their stories. Grab some tissues!

It is five years since Melissa Moore decided her local community in Clendon needed to take action to improve wellbeing and safety, and support people who were falling through the cracks. Melissa, a mother of four, was troubled by illegal rubbish dumping, vandalism and anti-social activity in the South Auckland suburb, especially around the Clendon Shopping Centre. She was inspired to stand up and do something about it. Fast track five years and the town centre looks a lot more loved and the community has a place to go for care and support.

“There was a lack of pride in our local area and this created a loss of hope in people,” Melissa remembers. “They felt displaced and that was preventing people from putting roots down. We set out to shift the narrative, to give hope and make this a community people want to live in.”

Clendon/Manurewa is a community that suffers from high levels of deprivation, inter-generational poverty and overcrowding in homes, particularly among its majority Māori and Pacific households. Melissa, whose family has lived in Manurewa for five generations, is now raising her own children there. She and a team of volunteers put new life into the rundown community house (Whare Tautoko), which was “shut up, overgrown and unloved”. They started a free op shop, and offered education and life skills programmes for those who needed help. 

Today, The Pride Project is a successful support initiative, fostering a sense of social and environmental responsibility so that the community itself drives positive change. The group runs a range of events and workshops including a parenting programme, women’s support groups, pathways into employment, the Clendon Food Forest and the community house gardens. Their Hope Navigators advocate for people in need and help to direct them to Mauri Ora. The community come when they need assistance and Melissa and her team are there to support them in any way they can. 

“Our Hope Navigators work with local people in a holistic way to address any need they have, encouraging them and giving them the confidence to find their own solutions. It’s all about asking ‘How can we help?’ and doing all we can to meet their needs. We also create education and empowerment opportunities to build people’s confidence and skill sets. Then they take what they have learned and support others who need help,” says Melissa.

“Until The Tindall Foundation helped fund our Hope Navigators, people were just volunteering their time. The funding was a life changer for our organisation. It was the first time some of the Hope Navigators had ever been in paid employment. They came from generations of unemployment so it was amazing for them to be able to share their own lived experience in a meaningful way to help others.

“They know what people are going through because they have been there themselves. I tell them, ‘All the pain and trauma you went through wasn’t in vain. You’ve put your hardships to good use. You’ve done your own healing and now you are healing others’.”

A TTF donation in 2020 funded capacity building to help the organisation establish sustainable processes such as health and safety guidelines, human resources, budgeting, governance and a strategic plan. “This was a pivotal part of our growth as an organisation,” Melissa reflects. “We now have robust policies and procedures that have enabled us to secure government contracts and larger funding so we can continue doing the mahi needed to help our people in Manurewa.”