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Brasa Waitara is a family-oriented jiu-jitsu club in North Taranaki, with founder and head coach Keitha Bannan being the first woman black belt in New Zealand. The club has about 50 members and holds junior and adult classes in this non-striking, grappling sport which aims to build strength, confidence and the ability to protect yourself when necessary. 

“We’ve had countless children come through who are bullied, timid and very wall-flowerish. By the time they’ve done a couple of years with us they are out there. They’ve grown in confidence and just like a flower blooming, it’s beautiful,” said Jackie Papuni, Treasurer.

In January 2023 vandals attacked the newly refurbished Brasa Waitara building.

“They smashed through our skylights to get in. They damaged walls, ceilings and mirrors and broke fluorescent tubes on all our mats so we couldn’t use them for fighting because of all the fine glass. Then they put our fighting uniforms in the oven and turned it on.

“We had spent all our money doing the basics to get up and running so when our coach walked in and saw it all she said we can’t afford to repair this, we’ll have to close.

“It was devastating for everyone that arrived that night to see their club destroyed like that,” said Jackie.

Toi Foundation granted Brasa Waitara $50k to fund the repairs.

“So, we were able to immediately order new mats and get bins to clean up. The locals came and helped and were absolutely awesome. In the end we were only two weeks late in starting classes, but it’s taken a year of hard work to recover and replace everything and Toi has been a major part of that.

"They're continually helping us to move forward and become a safer and healthy environment for our young people.”


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