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Five Kiwis to make a world of a difference

For immediate release
October 6th, 2006

Five Kiwis to make a world of a difference

Five Kiwis who share a commitment to helping, mentoring and inspiring our youth – particularly those most in need - have just had their dreams fast tracked by the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation.

The annual World of Difference programme is one of a kind, giving passionate people the chance to make a real difference to their favourite child or youth-related cause. The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation funds the programme, covering the salaries and expenses of up to six people a year.

This year’s World of Difference recipients are:

- Billie Paea – Crosspower Ministries Trust/Dziah (Manukau City)

- Maree Burns - Eating Difficulties Education Network (EDEN) (Auckland)

- Richard Aston - Big Buddy Mentoring Trust (Auckland)

- Paul Fong – Youth Quest - Trinity Charitable Trust (Wellington)

- Deborah Morris-Travers – Every Child Counts (Wellington)

Billie Paea will be working with Crosspower Ministries Trust as director of one its most successful youth programmes, hip-hop dance troupe Dziah. Hip-hop is the culture of South Auckland and a perfect way to inspire young people who have nowhere else to turn. Dziah has proven it can hold its own internationally after winning silver in the 2006 Hip Hop World Championships in L.A.

Maree Burns will be working with EDEN to help young New Zealanders struggling with potentially devastating eating difficulties and to get eating difficulties and disorders on the government health agenda. A key focus for Maree is developing services aimed at prevention and health promotion in this area.

Richard Aston will spend his World of Difference year with the Big Buddy Mentoring Trust. The Trust helps provide positive male role models for fatherless boys from Orewa to Papakura. Funding from the World of Difference programme is giving Richard the opportunity to set up the Big Buddy programme in at least four other centres in the North Island.

Police College physical training instructor Paul Fong will spend his year as project director for a new programme in Paraparaumu called Youth Quest. The programme offers a disciplined and regimented three-month programme incorporating a one-week “boot camp” which will initially target at-risk youth throughout the Kapiti and Horowhenua areas.

The fifth recipient this year is Deborah Morris-Travers, from Otaki, who will work with Every Child Counts, an initiative created by some of the nation’s most significant non-government organisations to advocate for children and young people.

Vodafone New Zealand Foundation Chairman Neil Porteous says entries this year were outstanding and the strength and determination in every application is inspiring.

“The Foundation is passionate about enriching the lives of children and young people and backing programmes that help them be the best they can by helping them develop into healthy, happy and dynamic adults. It has been a very difficult task selecting the five outstanding people who will take the Foundation’s aims forward this year.”

Since its inception in 2002 the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation World of Difference programme has enabled 18 Kiwis to unleash their passion in New Zealand and overseas. Thousands of people’s lives have been touched and charitable causes progressed as a result.

The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation has made a significant contribution to the community and by March 2007 will have granted more than $5 million to charitable projects.

The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation also encourages Vodafone employees to share their talents and passion with the community such as through a mini staff version of World of Difference, launched last year.

Three Vodafone employees have been selected to share their talent and skills, working full-time for up to two weeks with their chosen charity.

Carolyn Lesser will be working with Special Olympics New Zealand, Bonita Moana Rubena will work with Kidsline/Lifeline Auckland and Andy MacLean will work with the Cleft-Palate Support Group.


For more information on the World of Difference programme or to see the inspiring two minute documentary of past winners’ projects by New Zealand film-maker Rob Harley, check out the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation’s website:
The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation (VNZF) is a charitable trust established in New Zealand and funded by donations from Vodafone New Zealand Limited and the Vodafone Group Foundation (


Mini-biographies 2006 World of Difference Recipients

Billie Paea
Otara, Manukau City
Crosspower Ministries Trust

Raised in a very musical family and playing piano from the age of six, Billie Paea has a background in performing arts. He plays several musical instruments including saxophone, guitar, bass and drums. Billie graduated from Excel School of Performing Arts in 2002 and is also a qualified personal trainer. On top of all this he has represented Niue in 100m sprinting at the Manchester and Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

The 24 year old will spend his World of Difference year working with Crosspower Ministries Trust to provide South Auckland youth with supportive role models.

Billie will take on the role as director of one of the Trust’s key youth programmes, hip-hop dance troupe Dziah – already making a huge impact internationally after winning silver in the 2006 Hip Hop World Championships in L.A.

Billie says Dziah has the potential to be a dance academy providing dance training, top choreographers, local dance classes and mentoring programmes for talented, but at risk, youth.

“The benefit to our community is massive as Crosspower keeps troubled young kids off the streets. We’re giving them hope and telling them to hold their head high and concentrate on their dance talent.”

Paul Fong Paraparaumu, Wellington
Youth Quest

Born in 1972, Paul grew up in Kaitaia in a family of 11. At an early age he was drinking “copious amounts” of alcohol, and getting into fights. He knows what it is like to sleep on the streets. In the past he has been bottled over the head, had a gun pulled on him and had his head smashed through a window.

At 16, he was enrolled in the army because of the trouble he was getting into. Those six years in the military were the making of him.

He learnt discipline, respect, leadership skills and was educated to a level high enough to join the New Zealand Police. His first posting was to Otara in South Auckland. He went on to become a Police Protection Officer, responsible for the protection of the Prime Minister, the Governor General and various other heads of state.

Paul is now involved with a group of around 150 young people who meet every Wednesday night, where he has lectured on issues such as the drug ‘P’, the dangers of the Internet, text bullying, home invasions and general safety.

Paul will spend his World of Difference year as project director for a programme he developed called Youth Quest, run through the Trinity Charitable Trust. Youth Quest will offer a disciplined and regimented three-month programme incorporating a one-week “boot camp” which will target at-risk youth throughout the Kapiti and Horowhenua areas.

“I have a passion to see young people get the break that I had and to make something of themselves. It’s my turn to give back to society.”

Maree Burns
Meadowbank, Auckland
Eating Difficulties Education Network (EDEN)

Maree has been involved in voluntary work with EDEN in a variety of roles since 1999. She has always had a strong desire to volunteer her time and energy to the collective in whatever capacity was useful. She has since served on the governance committee, worked as a support worker, administration assistant and in a coordination role.

Maree remained involved with EDEN during the completion of her PhD in psychology (2004) in which her thesis involved a social psychological analysis of the eating disorder bulimia. This combined with the academic scholarships she was awarded in the field, has cemented and supported a strong commitment to her work.

Maree has very clear goals for her World of Difference year. She says establishing an efficient counselling service and securing more sustainable funding are key. She also wants to raise the profile of EDEN and put the issues of eating difficulties and disorders on the mental health agenda.

Maree says the focus of EDEN over the past 14 years has shifted from problem-based service provision to prevention and health promotion that recognises the interconnectedness of weight issues in all their forms.

“Disordered eating and body dissatisfaction robs people of their passion, energies, and their ability to participate fully in life. This doesn’t need to be the case. Adequate services for young people directed at prevention, health promotion, treatment and support can make all the difference.”

Richard Aston
Titirangi, Auckland
Big Buddy Mentoring Trust

With a background in corporate business consulting, IT, community and service work, Richard Aston is well placed to expand the services of Auckland organisation The Big Buddy Mentoring Trust.

Richard says the Big Buddy mentoring programme is based on a simple philosophy – that boys need good, reliable male role models in their lives to become good men. The Trust has huge praise for mothers raising sons alone but receives phone calls from women everyday who feel their sons need a ‘Big Buddy’.

“Mentoring fatherless boys is a profoundly simple concept but one that has huge implications in healing the social fabric of our communities. My dream is that eventually every fatherless boy in New Zealand who needs a positive male role model will actually have one and in the process we build a better world.”

Richard says the Trust currently employs two coordinator/youth workers who deal directly with the Big Buddies, the boys and their families. They also have a contracted clinical manager who develops and maintains the stringent mentor screening and assessment process. The remaining members of the team are part-time or voluntary accountancy and fundraising staff.

During Richard’s World of Difference year his aim is to expand the organisation to offer services around the North Island and eventually New Zealand.

Deborah Morris-Travers
Otaki, Wellington
Every Child Counts

Wellingtonian Deborah Morris-Travers is most well known for becoming New Zealand’s youngest ever Minister of the Crown in the late 1990s. She had responsibility for Youth Affairs, ACC, Environment and Women’s Affairs and was a member of the Education Select Committee.

Deborah left politics in 1998 to become a government relations manager and complete her Masters degree in International Relations (Merit) at Victoria University.

But politics drew her back and she joined government delegations to United Nations disarmament meetings in Geneva, Bangkok and Kenya as a non-government representative. She also became an advocate on behalf of landmine survivors and currently serves on the Public Advisory Committee for Disarmament and Arms Control.

In more recent years Deborah has been working as an advocacy advisor to the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, coordinating the Littlies Lobby parliamentary network, working on the Every Child Counts project team and the organising committee for the 2006 Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.

This year Deborah has focused on raising her first child while working with the Children’s Commissioner, Families Commission, Plunket, Wellink Trust and Every Child Counts.

Every Child Counts is a new initiative that brings together some of the nation’s most significant non-government organisations. It is supported by 350 organisations and driven by Barnardos, Plunket, UNICEF, Save the Children and the Institute of Public Policy at AUT.

As project manager to Every Child Counts, Deborah’s aims for her World of Difference year include:
- ensuring all political parties develop polices that support children and their families
- raising wide public understanding around the importance of children to the nation’s social and economic development and what we can do to support optimal outcomes for children
- promoting children and the valuable role of parenting.

“World of Difference is a wonderful opportunity for me. The next year will allow me help these organisations build on the Every Child Counts campaign to ensure children and young people are more appreciated and their importance is acknowledged by political and other decision-makers.”


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