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The network of stopbanks surrounding the Hauraki district worked wonders to protect Paeroa from flooding during the severe weather events of 2023. FILE PHOTO: TANE BRADLEY

We are resilient together



I entered this year with such excitement for the year to come. It had been a tough few years for most of us and it felt like that season had come to an end.
It looked like we had a clear run to start the year well. And then the weather hit. We have been so fortunate in our region compared to what is being experienced in the Hawke’s Bay. Yet, there has no doubt been tragedy and struggle in our own back yard.
What I have observed however is the resilience we see, that often surprises us. The news we are hearing and reports from friends and family on the East Coast is heart breaking. And yet we see a deep community resilience that stares tragedy in the face and refuses to stay down.
In the past 10 years we have seen earthquakes, the mosque shooting, fires, Covid-19, flooding and slips. And we have seen people come together, neighbour helping neighbour. A region, or nation called to action, called to stand united.
When we experience pain, tragedy, even trauma as a collective, we stand as a collective. There is something about knowing that everyone else is in mud with me. There is a greater strength knowing that we are not alone, that we stand together.
I would argue that a huge part of the resilience of a person, and research would support this, comes from the community we have around us. When a person experiences tragedy or trauma in isolation, however, it becomes very hard to get back up and lean into the pain.

Just this week in our Thrive resilience program we explored this idea. We invited a student to walk around a rope while being supported by the class holding the rope in a circle.
Each student had a role to play, reflecting the connections of the young person – mum, dad, brother, sister, pet, class mates, sports team and so on.
As the student walked around the rope, we then began to tell a story that saw certain aspects of the circle let go, until eventually only a handful of students remained as support.
And we asked the question to students: “who are the key people in your life that can hold you up when things get tough?”
In these trying times we find ourselves in, there are people in our community who are needing support right now.
We have people who have indeed lost their homes or loved ones. And now is the time to reach out and show others they are not alone in their pain. Because the greatest resilience comes from community.
Something valuable for us each to consider is what does our circle of support look like. Consider drawing or writing it down while you are healthy and well.
Consider who you would lean on, and who will lean on you. When we are consciously aware of who is in our circle, and talk about it with each other, it becomes easier to ask for help when we need it.
Because the reality is that no one is an island, and we need each other more than we care to admit.

– Michael Wilkes is a Living Well Trust Youth Worker