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Auckland Fathers’ Breakfast

Auckland Fathers’ Breakfast

Six hundred men who want to be better dads had breakfast together at SkyCity yesterday (Tuesday) morning. Hosted by The Parenting Place, the sixteenth annual Auckland Fathers' Breakfast featured five speakers giving their best seven minutes on what it means to be a father. Mark Powell, CEO of The Warehouse Group, TVNZ and NewstalkZB journalist Tim Wilson and Paul Blackwell, owner of the New Zealand Breakers were in this year’s line up.

“I was asked to speak last year but refused,” confessed Mark Powell. “Parenting is personal, I wasn’t sure I was any good as a father and I lacked a good role model myself: my parents divorced and I didn’t have much of a relationship with my father.” But when Powell was asked again, he polled his now adult daughters and was delighted to hear he had done a few things right. “The advice that helped me most was that girls need boundaries – boundaries that change as they get older and boundaries that come from love rather than from being a dictator. If they break the boundaries they need to know they can always come back.”

Entertainer PioTerei admitted that he knows how to speak at events like this: “I make a few gags and then I make a few points”, but said how this was going to be a very different talk. “My emotion is going to speak today.” He shared his journey through depression during his son's recent battle with cancer. “Lately I’ve been feeling very bad. I got the news that my sixteen year old had cancer just as I was about to step up on a stage at Cambridge. I drove straight back to Auckland, swearing at the window and blaming everybody. I didn’t know how to act – well, The Herald had said I didn’t know how to act! My boy got sick, and I got sick. I felt useless, and I got darker and darker. I went to my own doctor – I was crying – and he lined up someone to talk to at the hospital. And he also said I should take some pills. I told him, ‘I’m not going to take those!’ The doctor said, ‘Okay, next time you come, you bring your own medical degree.’ He was right: they cleared the clouds away so I could actually think. I made sure I surrounded myself with the right people, positive people, and I avoided people who would have just said, ‘Harden up!’ – thanks John Kirwan!” Both Pio and his son are recovering very well.

“I love how these speakers are sharing not from their professional expertise but from their hearts”, said Programme Director at The Parenting Place, Zane Scarborough. “With only seven minutes, there’s no bull, they cut straight to the heart of the issues. Most of them are not sharing from their successes and strengths and knowledge; they are actually sharing from their vulnerability and mistakes”, said Scarborough, who was also one of the speakers.

Greg Fleming, The Parenting Place’s new CEO, was delighted with the event. “Six hundred men, all fired up to do the best for their kids and partners. Think what that will do, not just for their families but for the whole country.”


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