In 1990 Rae Chandler started the first Youth Group by setting up a meeting place for teenagers at Mulberry Grove beach where they met regularly for a number of months until it got too cold. 1991 saw the Youth Group officially move into the Tryphena Hall and over the next few years many different people took on the role of Youth Worker – Peter Edmonds, Gwen Komene, Fenella Christian, Jeanne Payne, Karen Armstrong, Anna Henson, Wendy Dodds and Robyn Storey. These people turned up every week to give the teenagers a space to meet, play and socialise.
In 1995 Christina Spence was employed as the Youth Worker under the Community Project Workers scheme funded by Internal Affairs. This helped establish the youth group in a more formal way and Christina was able to organise workshops, trips to Auckland and the snow, to Northland to paddle Waka and learn how to dive. They hosted visiting teams, visiting youth workers and they learnt how to just be in the world. The funding was a big shift forward for the teenagers and this has continued to this day.
Christina moved into a new role in the organisation and since then there have been a number of different people in the Youth Worker Role – Aroha Whaanga, Monique van Ditzhuyzen, Pauline Bellerby, Nathan Geldard, Simon Russell, Michelle Hartley-Scott, Jackie Soden and Cait Devey, Benny Bellerby and Eve Woodward-Gray, Nathan Laven, Vicky Kyan, Ben Assado, Rendt Gorter, Luke Coles, Kellie Cleave, Keri Lyon.
The biggest challenge today is to continue to find funding, deal with burnout, cope with fluctuating teenage numbers and change. Because of the island’s geography, the need to manage risks and the small, variable numbers involved, the organisation of the youth group is always a challenging and time-consuming task.