The History of BGI

image of the BGI Poutokomanawa

The Wellington Boys’ and Girls’ Institute (BGI) is an association that was founded in 1883 by a group of young people associated with St John’s Church in Wellington City, who were looking for an organisation through which they could work to benefit other young people in their community. For a long time BGI was known for the gymnasium and swimming pool it ran. BGI has a number of programmes that focus on helping young people in the community build strong, healthy and life-long relationships with their families and peers, while developing other necessary life skills such as effective leadership and communication. BGI is committed to making Te Whanganui a Tara a better place for young people and their whānau. BGI works on what we have termed a ‘continuum of need’. We offer services to young people in our community with the understanding that all these people are at different stages and have different needs. Our programmes can be placed on a continuum from those who are high need cases and need one on one mentoring, to those young people who want to take a leadership position and make changes in the way young people are treated in their community. We can roughly place the services BGI offers in three umbrella headings which symbolise three main areas in which BGI provides young people with guidance, leadership and support. These can also be thought of as a progression from one to another on the BGI continuum of need. The first of these is pūkengatanga, meaning forming links between generations through mentoring and guidance, which is expressed in BGI through its programmes based on therapeutic adventure, mentoring and whānau wellbeing. The second is whare wānanga, which encompasses those programmes that work to develop and display the talents and skills of young people, such as youth groups, dance crews and the cultural exploration projects such as crossing the stile. Lastly is urungatanga where young people are guided in how to problem solve, to lead and to make changes in their own communities. In BGI this takes the form of action research, leadership support and youth work development. In this way BGI is still based on its founding principle – of providing an association through which young people can work to help other young people – but has also expanded to have a more holistic view of youth, with mentoring, parenting, dance and arts programmes and adventure therapy, as well as youth leadership and youth employment training programmes.