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Live for more – giving hope

Before Jared Dixon found surfing, he was a gang member with six years’ of prison behind him. The constants in his life were drugs, alcohol, partying, crime, and violence. About three years ago, Jared was referred to a Tauranga surf therapy programme called Live For More. 

“To be able to touch water for the first time in years was really cleansing for me. They gave me hope. They told me, you can get through it. You have potential.”

Jared now works as the programme’s youth mentor; helping young men find a pathway out of crime.

Surf Therapy

Krista Dixon founded Live for More in 2016 as the concept of surf therapy was sweeping the world.

Originally from the United States, Krista came to New Zealand on a one-year university exchange and moved here for good a couple of years later. She has a psychology degree and a post-graduate qualification in mental health and addictions. She started running surf therapy sessions while working as a drug and alcohol counsellor with another organisation, but quickly realised the results of surf therapy were worth committing to. She quit, set up Live for More, and prayed the bills would be paid. And, thanks to the support of donors like Trinity Lands, they have been.

Connecting with nature

Krista says surfing connects people with nature in a way that requires focus and perseverance. Participants in her courses say the regular sessions give them purpose and provide a break from the noise in their heads.

“Surf therapy forces you to be present in the moment, getting in the water changes people – it’s really powerful. It’s cleansing, it’s refreshing.”

Krista Dixon,
Live for More founder

Since 2016, Live for More has worked with 200 young men in Tauranga.

They come to the programme aged between 17 and 25, and generally not in school or work or training. Data shows 86% of participants grew up around gangs and 74% have been suicidal at some stage. Around 45% have been in prison and 91% are Māori. Through a graduated series of three programmes, Live for More helps participants believe that change is possible.

In 2022, Trinity Lands gave Live for More the first of three promised annual grants, totalling more than $100,000.

A brotherhood

Josh Williams, 18, was referred to Live for More by his social worker. He was, in his own words: “on drugs, going downhill, on weed, meth.” He would verbally abuse and threaten his mother, sometimes raging and shouting as she hid in her wardrobe. Josh’s mum Helen Miller says her youngest child was always a caring boy. But it got to the point where he scared her.

Now, she says Josh has a brotherhood of boys he graduated from the Live for More programme alongside, and they keep each other on a positive path. Surfing helps them clear their heads, and Josh is once again a caring son. “We can talk now – he doesn’t lose the plot. I’ve got my boy back.”

Changing lives

Josh says Live for More has taught him how to navigate situations with good communication and honesty. The programme introduced him to surfing, at which he turned out to be pretty good. He’s contemplating a trade and has even been in contact with a few employers who are willing to give him a go as soon as he can pass a drug test, which is his next goal.

“Ever since I’ve been with Live for More, my whole life’s changed. I’m a different person.”

Josh Williams

“To be able to touch water for the first time in years was really cleansing for me.”

Jared Dixon, 
Youth Mentor