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Our Vision

The Rising Foundation believes in “Unlocking Your Potential”. We apply this to every young adult and we have seen first-hand how a sustained programme of intervention, prevention and support works. The Dream is to take The Rising nationwide in consultation with schools and communities in areas where there is an identified need.

The programme will be adapted to suit the specific needs of each community, under the stewardship of John Bongard, Rising Foundation Board of Trustees and General Manager Alex Tarrant, who have a clear vision of what it will take to succeed.

The Foundation plans to train people to implement the programme and over time, unlock and direct the incredible potential in all New Zealand youth, regardless of the challenges they face.


the Core Pillars

Four Pillars.jpg

Our History

Co founded by John and Diane Bongard, the programme began in 2009 with a group of 20 young people based in Papakura High School. In 2009 Social Worker Eli Tulafono launched Te Roopu Kakano (TRK), a pilot group of 20 students at Papakura High School supported by Matua Abe Warren and Matua Maurice Tarei.

 John Bongard had been seeking a programme that would make a real difference, in the lives of the talented and overlooked youth in South Auckland. This would serve as a model for impacting communities in a grass roots and uniquely kiwi way. TRK fit the bill and Eli was employed to join John in creating a programme, that could be introduced in a number of schools.

The original Board was appointed including Chairman John Bongard, Peter Goldsmith, John Wardrop. Richard Jeffery, Kay Spencer and Lady Sarah Fay. (Sam Bongard and Don Mann have also since joined). Donna Rogers was then employed as Programme Administrator. The Rising Foundation was formed and was officially registered as an Incorporated Society in December 2010 and registered as a Charity by February 2011.

Eli left in April 2015 and the team he had established, with former students as Programme Coordinators, continued to refine and build the programme under the supervision of the Board until Registered Social Worker Alex Tarrant was brought on as General Manager in February 2016. We have since introduced a computerised case management system, internal supervision, Term Themes and the Gem Journey Storytelling Intervention.

We moved our administration office to the Momentum Hub at Vector Wero Whitewater Park in Manukau.

In January 2017 and in 2018 we launched Transition 2, a service that supports our graduates as they journey on into tertiary education or meaningful employment.  This created the role of Employment Pathways Manager, originally held by Feleti Lotulelei and then in 2020 by Tiare Matara.

Progression Charts

These Progression Charts were created, to provide a brief visual overview of the three core areas that we focus on as a programme.

  • The Human Development milestones that our adolescents should reach during their time with us, focussing especially on Identity

  • The Emotional Wellbeing of our students, equipping them to make wise choices, maintain a positive attitude and negotiate healthy relationships

  • Acquisition and the practical steps towards a meaningful career, managed by our Transition 2, Employment Pathways Team


These three realms combine in the life of our participants and in the content of our programme delivery and daily mentorship practice.

Our Points of Difference

This TRF programme is a seven year journey for each student and beyond. From Intermediate School to Graduate Level we pathway our young people into university, tertiary education, trades training and employment. 

Students on their educational and post schooling journies are currently returning to TRF programme based at the schools, to facilitate and assist with co-ordinating camps, workshops and activities. This encourages our reciprocal pathway mentoring programme. 

In the neighbourhood surrounding every school TRF seeks local community and business bodies to assist in financially supporting our programme.

TRF has set up student committees within each school to self-manage the programme and participate in fundraising activities to help fund camps and other activities within the programme. A hand up and NOT a hand out mentality prevails!

TRF does not work in a triage mentality, but commences positive personal training before our youth have crossed any negative lines. 

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