NZ Herald 27 June 2014
War hero Willie Apiata drew on his own experiences as a fatherless child to help launch a foundation close to his heart.
New Zealand’s only living recipient of the Victoria Cross helped to launch the Big Buddy Foundation in Auckland last night, with Prime Minister John Key and All Black great Grant Fox.
The foundation will secure funding for the existing Big Buddy mentoring programme, which matches fatherless boys with adult buddies on the philosophy that boys need positive male role models in their lives in order to become good men.
Mr Apiata spoke of growing up without a father.
“I was just lucky to live in a small community where there were male role models there for me to be able to seek support, advice and … finish off my training to become a man.”
He felt privileged to be part of an organisation helping to build good young men, including 17-year-old Teraia Whatuira-Henderson, who gave a poignant speech about how much his buddy had helped him when his father committed suicide when he was 10.