Giving back | News | Kawerau

12 February 2014

Three young men who are Kawerau born and bred are giving back to a town they say they have always loved.

Brothers Richard and Raymond Moon and childhood mate Hayden Tamatea have fulfilled a life-long ambition – to set up something in Kawerau for the youth.

Seven months ago the trio opened the doors to Brothers at Arms – Kawerau MMA, and admit the success of the gym has astounded them as much as it has their critics.

Richard left the mill town for Palmerston North two-and-a-half years ago.
“My first day in Palmy I walked into a martial arts gym and was instantly hooked,” he said.

He has passed on his love of the world’s fastest-growing sport to his brother and friend.
Raymond has never left Kawerau and, together with his wife and brother, runs a building business.

Hayden, who has been in the Navy, said the loss of his brother Corporal Luke Tamatea in Afghanistan in August 2012, shifted his family dynamics and made him realise it was time to “head home”.

It was Hayden’s dedication to the gym that also paved the way for his position with Manna Support Services. “Initially I was offering classes to some of the young ones who had fallen off the rails and that eventually turned into a job with Manna,” Hayden said.

“I’m now with the youth development team helping to get some of our young ones into the defence forces.”

He said the structured gym environment and the discipline applied to all walks of life, especially the forces.

Funded solely from their own pockets to the tune of about $10,000, Brothers at Arms is testament to three men determined to give something back.

“Membership has grown week to week and it is now at a point we need to find bigger premises for the classes,” Raymond said.

Not surprising as the owners charge a mere $10 a week for unlimited classes and the first week is free.
“We wanted to ensure it was accessible and affordable for everyone.”

He said many members had simply walked in off the street after hearing training taking place, while others had joined through one of the youth services within the town.

Classes include MMA (mixed martial arts), Jiu Jitsu and box fit.
Brothers at Arms is already enjoying success as a gym with Richard and another member Kate da Silva travelling to the Storm Damage 4 Tournament in Australia in March. Three others will take part in the Battle of the Coast next month.

But perhaps more important is the feedback they are getting.

“We’ve got a few autistic kids who come in here and train, and a few more who have had behavioural issues,” Raymond said. “There are also youngsters who were timid who are gradually becoming more confident. “What we’re getting back from their parents in regard to changing behaviour is awesome, it makes it all the hard work and sweat worthwhile.”