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Providing support to Kaumaatua in the Waikato is something that drives Roy Manukau, known at the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust as "Uncle Roy".
He is a leading figure for other Kaumaatua, and helps to provide support services as a member of the Kotahitanga Committee, a group of Kaumaatua who voluntarily multi-task in a variety of ways to support Rauawaawa’s vision of “hei manaaki ngaa Kaumaatua” – to enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of Kauma
Uncle Roy has been with the trust for a long period of time, and was involved in refurbishing the building when it was first purchased.
Rauawaawa provides a range of health, social, educational, cultural, recreational, housing and transport support services to those aged 55 years and over, and Uncle Roy is a regular at the organisation's Frankton base, volunteering most days of the week.
"On Fridays, we have a social day," he says. "The Kotahitanga Committee prepares for this every Thursday and then helps with participation on Fridays. We have a band, and everyone sings – it's great to see everyone get involved and be happy."
Aside from social events, he also has an important role in welcoming people, and provides support when a Kaumaatua or a family member passes away. This is a difficult time for many and he says a familiar face to support families during this time is appreciated.
Uncle Roy has a particular concern for issues of elder abuse and social isolation, and does what he can to address this, but it can be challenging. He says the activities Rauawaawa runs each week provide an opportunity for Kaumaatua to meet up and take part in social events, which improves their quality of life.
His motivation to be involved and help is simple: "It makes me happy to be able to help Kaumaatua. I am not interested in money - the happiness that the Kaumaatua receive in their ageing years is why I do what I do. I am very happy to be with these people. "
He says volunteering is an important part of life for many older people, and encourages others to get involved.
"We all need to look after each other, no matter the circumstances. That way life will be better for all of us."
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Volunteering Waikato at 07 839 3191 or www.volunteeringwaikato.org.nz.
Photo credit: Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust.