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Andre Jay | A career committed to the success of young people

Andre Jay

Priority one caught up with Andre Jay a local young professional who is using his passion for people to guide the future success of Tauranga Moana. Andre Jay is the facilitator for the Imagine, Believe, Achieve programme which is one of Tauranga’s newest programmes designed specifically to engage, inspire and lead our rangatahi (young people) along a positive pathway to success. Check out his story here.

Andre, can you tell us your brief career story and a bit about yourself?

Having kids at a young age and having to grow up relatively quickly into parenthood might seem challenging to most. However, speaking here on behalf of my wife of 20 years we thrived in this chaos. After teaching for about seven years we took a risk with our two girls in order to get ahead in life. We began a six-year life-changing trip to live and work in Qatar in the Middle East. This helped set us up financially. When I returned to NZ and after almost 20 years of teaching I realized that the teaching profession was no longer for me. I decided instead to make a career change and begin a journey dealing with ‘at risk’ rangatahi in Tauranga. My early years were somewhat dysfunctional but I had always wanted to have a family of my own. I am an extremely passionate and driven person who sees the positives in most situations. I take a lot of these strong and positive values from my mother who passed away 21 years ago. I owe a lot of who I am to her.

What is your role at Tauranga Youth Development Trust?

I am currently employed as the Facilitator for the Imagine, Believe, Achieve programme which was established under the umbrella of the Bay of Plenty Youth Development Trust and which came out of the development and growth of the Tauranga Boxing Academy. My key role is to plan and execute the programme. It has been designed to work with at risk rangatahi aged 15-24 who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). We take the programme participants on a 13-week wellbeing journey that is based around the Māori whare tapa wha health and wellbeing model.

We strive to get the youth ready for employment. The programme curriculum is based around the 8 employability skills (from the Ministry of Education’s ‘Licence to Work’ document). We invite speakers in to share their personal journeys to inspire our young people and we deliberately expose them to as many different real-time life and employment experiences that we can. We also use ongoing reflective learning approaches to grow each participant’s capacity for future employment. I am assisted by our Kaitohuhu/Advisor Paora Howe who helps me to navigate the daily challenges we face with our rangatahi through a cultural lens.

What motivates you to work with Rangatahi?

This question for me is better phrased in the question “Why are you not working with Rangatahi?” The constant challenge, the small wins, the life changing moments you have with these amazing young human beings makes me not only love this work and I wouldnt want to be anywhere else. The connections, the networks and the aroha from so many people that we have been privileged enough to meet and to korero with shows what a supportive and caring society we live in.

What do you like about living and working in Tauranga Moana?

After visiting so many wonderful countries around the world and having so many incredible experiences, from climbing the pyramids in Egypt to paddling through Venice in a gondola, you soon realise that we have such a beautiful backyard. Tauranga Moana offers so much – Mauao, the Moana, the Papamoa hills and beach, the Kaiate falls. It is a playground for such a diverse range of passions. Who wouldn’t want to take in the vista from the top of Mauao?

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