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Building strong tamariki

August 2022

Cactus is back at Flaxmere College but with a new look and name: Te Vaka Māia: The Waka of Courage, incorporating cultural awareness and identity into the programme.

The eight-week programme is a physical and mental development programme for high schools, run by police and college staff. It is designed to extend students’ mental and physical capabilities, and build motivation, resilience, problem-solving skills and self-esteem.

This year, 22 students and 19 college staff and police have signed up for the challenge, tipping out of bed in the early hours three mornings a week to run, carry weights, and complete circuits of sit-ups, crunches and burpees.

With the school gym undergoing a rebuild, the course is being run at the Flaxmere Community Centre. It all builds up to The Longest Day, when their new-found fitness will be put to the test by, among other things, hauling a heavy vehicle.

In the meantime the students are working on earning their new t-shirts (the adults buy theirs) by achieving 100 per cent attendance and improving their fitness over the first four weeks.


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