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    What is ROPF?

    The Rites of Passage Foundation (ROPF) provides conscious, community-led and nature based Rites of Passage programmes for young people moving from adolescence to adulthood. We promote and further the education, personal and social development of young people in our community. We develop and foster our community in providing a range of positive inter-generational and socially diverse experiences. We assist young people, families and our community in their social, creative and community orientated pursuits.

    What is the ROPF' Philosophy?

    Evidence suggests that for at least 50,000 years, in cultures the world over, communities have initiated their young into adulthood. The rite of passage processes, though different everywhere, are structurally very much the same.

    QuoteIf we don’t initiate the young, they will burn down the village to feel the heat.Quote_end

    African Proverb

    When a community doesn’t provide formal, constructive rites of passage then what is usually found is young people engaging in destructive, informal versions of it, that often come at great cost to the individual and society.

    We believe that conscious rites of passage for young people can contribute to healthy transitions into adulthood. Assisting in self-development and fostering a sense of belonging, adolescents and adults become part of community life rather than persons alone, lacking support, sanction and purpose. We aim to support the key developmental tasks of belonging and identity along with a sense of connection with self and nature.

    How does ROPF operate?

    We address the needs of individuals, families and community through our established calendar of events and programmes. Supporting children, young people and parents to establish a solid, resilient, foundation within themselves and their families, while offering a network of ongoing support and opportunities for growth. Helping people to equip themselves with the necessary tools to find their own solutions, hopefully going on to contribute, support and be of service to others and their community.

    The work of rites of passage belongs to the community and one of its key features is to bring young people fully into the community, and there is an innate longing in them for that. Rites of passage helps young people channel their energy into appropriate forms that serve community, serve family and serves the causes they want to serve.

    There are also broader community development aspects of our work.

    Adge Tucker started his career in youth work in England at age 19. He went onto study community and youth achieving a BA hons degree in ‘Community and Youth Studies’ and a National Diploma in ‘Youth Work’ before moving to New Zealand in 2001. Over the years, he has built up a community network of people who’ve been involved in our events. He is often consulted about youth matters and in this role is highly respected within our community. Adge also chairs the Nelson Tasman Youth Workers Collective, supporting the regions workers and helping develop and promote the sector and profession on a national level. As community development worker for ROPF, his new ideas and concepts about what we can offer young people and their families are steadily shaped into programmes.

    The strengths based, youth development approach of our programmes foster self-awareness, confidence and resilience, whilst creating opportunities to explore deficits and challenges and initiate change, healing and growth.

    Camping for 4 nights and 5 days on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park our program includes outdoor experiences that can be challenging for some, providing a sufficient degree of difficulty in order to overcome barriers. We provide creative modalities for exploring self and other such as, nature art, mask making, theatre sports and song. Mini-solo experiences are balanced with group work and games. Sharing circles are balanced with informal opportunities to encourage young women and men to tell their own stories and hear growth experiences of others. Positive role modelling and mentoring from adult women and men is also a big part of the ROPF programme.

    What do participants gain from attending a Rites of Passage event?

    These are 6 key overarching outcomes we continue to pursue through our work and calendar of events:


    Communication, understanding, respect, trust, connection, responsibility, active in community, school; performance/engagement/results, being supported, self awareness and confidence, reduction in negative indicators (offending depression etc.)


    Increased; sense of self, gifts and talents and role, belonging and connection, challenge, courage, inner resources, new perspectives, understanding of freedom/responsibility, confronting difficulty/dysfunction, self reflection/awareness, gained tools for stepping out, sense of empowerment and personal transformation.


    Self awareness, authentic voice, speaking out, active listening, role modeling leadership, ability to work in team, motivate and inspire others, support and service, taking action when/where needed, responsibility able to contribute to the greater good, increased confidence, compassion understanding and respect.


    Increased sense of direction - have the tools and life skills to pursue their path and cope with challenges, know their limitations and when to push themselves, healthier life choices, less influenced by peer pressure, positive self esteem, creativity, confidence, seeking support, helping and supporting others, ability to connect and increased resilience.


    Increased inter-generational relationships and support, action taken on community issues, stronger networks, increased participation, sense of belonging to and supported by community, willingness to help and increased community awareness.


    Increased sense of connection to nature, awareness of how actions affect environment and others, sustainability for future generations, acceptance of others and diversity.

    The Rites of Passage Foundation is about fostering healthy, hopeful young men and women who are strong in themselves. A rite of passage guides teenage boys and their families through a fully supported transition from young boy or girl to a more independent young man or woman. Young men or women return with an improved sense of self esteem and direction in their lives. They also gain a clearer understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman, having had the chance to hear the stories of other men and women. The parents/caregivers are also offered the opportunity to explore their changing relationship with the young man or woman as he or she enters adulthood.

    How do we know there is a need for this type of work?

    Our staff and many of our facilitators have been working in the youth or related sectors, in this region for some time and unfortunately see evidence of the need on regular basis.

    Also recent research confirms that; 'there is a problem with traditional education as it attempts to prepare young people to transition from childhood into adulthood. The OECD report released in 2009 entitled “Doing Better for Children” states that young New Zealanders are at a greater risk than those of virtually any other nation with which we would wish to compare ourselves' (Gluckman, 2011, p. 4).

    The Gluckman Report “Improving the Transition: Reducing Social and Psychological Morbidity During Adolescence” (2011) is a comprehensive government funded inquiry into the state of adolescent health in New Zealand and suggests that New Zealand has a problem with supporting its young people in the transition to adulthood.

    High rates of youth morbidity and suicide are indicators that adolescents in New Zealand are not making a successful transition into adulthood. Skegg, (found in Gluckman, 2011) argues that youth suicide represents the ultimate failure to transition from child to adulthood (p. 208).

    New Zealand experiences poor outcomes for young people in terms in teenage pregnancy, sexual infections abortion, crime, mental health, drug and alcohol use and suicide (Gluckman, 2011, pp. 1-17). Approximately one third of all marriages result in divorce in New Zealand (ibid, p. 181) and there is an increased risk of harm in terms of the social, psychological, and physical development of children whose parents split up (ibid, p. 177). The report questions why a significant number of young people are not making a happy and healthy transition into adulthood in spite of the opportunities provided by our unique natural heritage and moderately prosperous economy (ibid, p. 4).

    How many boys and men, girls and women have benefited from our Rites of Passage events?

    Since 2000 the Rites of Passage Foundation (Tracks and Tides until 2012) has managed in excess of 600 youth registrations for our programmes. It is also important to recognise the reciprocal exchange of benefits that cycles between the Rites of Passage Foundation and our large bank of volunteers in service. We have steadily increased the number of programmes we run to service demand. The Rites of Passage Foundation is based in Golden Bay, northwest Nelson, but increasingly we are welcoming boys and their families from other regions.

    How does the Rites of Passage Foundation ensure the safety of the young people attending events?

    The Rites of Passage Foundation operates within the ‘Code of Ethics for Youth Work in Aotearoa’ and has a Child Protection and Duty of Care Policy in place. All adult participants (anyone 17 and older) at an event have an implied and explicit 'Duty of Care' for the child participants. The physical, emotional, sexual safety and protection of children under our care is of utmost importance. All Rites of Passage Foundation staff are subject to, and must pass, a Police Check.

    How does the Rites of Passage Foundation decide how much to charge participants for an event, and what happens if a boy’s family cannot afford the cost?

    Our aim is that each event is self-funding, and we set the fees accordingly. We continuously apply for funding for scholarships to provide for families who cannot afford the full cost of a ROPE.

    What sources of funding has the Rites of Passage Foundation used up till now?

    Although events are budgeted to break even, we rely on external funding for operational expenses. Grants from government and philanthropic organisations as well as individual donations, have been the primary funding sources to date.

    What will the Rites of Passage Foundation do if it is successful in gaining additional funding?

    Our programmes provide a framework for effective youth development. Positive developmental pathways are fostered in adolescents, helping them develop a sense of industry and competency, a feeling of connectedness to others, and to nature, and to society, a belief in their control over their fate in life, and a stable identity.

    The programmes also function as a vehicle to bring adults together to shape culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate activities. Throughout the processes, young people, parents and community members all contribute to and learn from the courses.

    We will continue to run our current and also develop new programmes. We will run:

    In which 45 new families will graduate their rite. 40 returning young people will graduate their phase 2 leadership development. 18 trainee facilitators and 6 elders in training graduate. 18 experienced young leaders step onto facilitator training pathway and 3 trainee event directors progressed.

    In which 13 men & women graduate, 4 experienced young leaders complete extended leadership and service pathway and 4 facilitators trained in delivery of this courses.

    In which 14 young families graduate this parent/child course, 4 facilitators will train in delivering this course and 4 young leaders will gain an experience of service and leadership whilst facilitating 8-10's.

    In which 16 young people will attending more interest specific, specialised courses eg. survival skills, arts. Those young people will gain specific skills and knowledge relating to those subjects.

    In which 18 ROPF community members will increase their skills and knowledge through their role on the team for design and delivery of fundraising event.

    And we will also

    What is the charitable status of the Rites of Passage Foundation?

    The Rites of Passage Foundation is registered as a charitable trust and all donations are tax deductible.

    Is the Rites of Passage Foundation interested in one-off donations or ongoing funding agreements?

    Both one-off and regular donations are useful to the work of the Rites of Passage Foundation. Regular funding arrangements are extremely valuable as they allow us to plan our work with greater certainty. However, we gratefully receive one-off donations, both large and small, and appreciate the benefits of a large and diverse range of financial support. Our details...

    I would like to make an individual donation. Is this useful for the Rites of Passage Foundation, and how should I go about it?

    Thank-you! Yes, your donation is very useful for our work. Our details...

    How does ROPF support other youth rite of passage programs?

    We run trainings twice a year for women and men who are interested in becoming part of the ROPF team or have an interest in youth rites of passage elsewhere. We incorporate the national youth workers code of ethics and are concerned that rites of passage be safe and well held and are committed to assisting this to occur. We willingly offer and share the story of ROPF journey, resources we have gathered around programs and rituals, access to our trainings and participation in our events as a model. 
ROPF is also supported by and in support of similar work being done in Australia and America.

    Who are the women and men involved in ROPF?

    ROPF management team and trustees are based in Golden Bay. The women and men that participate in and help run the events range in age from 18 – 60+. They are diverse in their skills and experience and although our aim is to recruit from within our local community, we sometimes invite experienced facilitators in from other parts of New Zealand including Nelson, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Christchurch and Auckland. ROPF initially operated under the Tui Spiritual and educational Trust, which has actively lived and promoted intentional community, sustainable land use and personal and spiritual development for 25 years. More than a decade of experience holding outdoor women’s and men's & co-gender gatherings provides the foundation for this work with young women and men.

    How do you know the community supports your project?

    We have been running courses since 2002 and a large proportion of our new families are referred by previous participants and we have a growing pool of individual supporters who donate regular amounts on a monthly or fortnightly basis as well as annual donations from local companies. These represent strong endorsements. We also continue to get referrals from other organisations and practitioners working with young people; Community Workers, school counselors, family therapists, mediators, youth health practitioners, police etc.

    Setting up large events inevitably requires support from others around and outside the events themselves. Here is another area where we receive generous support from the community, whether it's discounted rates, permissions and access, materials, supplies or time. Our relationship with Tui Spiritual Education Trust (TSET) is a great example of that, their support and flexibility have been invaluable.

    We have also established relationships with local community groups, such as the Lions and the Masons, formulating agreements where families wanting to attend our programmes can approach these groups for financial assistance with a good chance that they'll receive support.

    My service club or company may be interested in funding the Rites of Passage Foundation. What is the best way for us to find out more about us?

    If you would like someone from the Rites of Passage Foundation to make a presentation at one of your meetings, please contact our central office team.