Back in 1995, John Grubner made the local newspaper for being New Zealand’s very first “HIPPY dad” tutor.

The local Shore News community paper said at the time, “Mr Grubner is a rare breed as a HIPPY tutor because it is usually mums who are recruited from parents who have been through the programme.”

The Shore News also reported that HIPPY was having an impact in the Northcote community, including helping to break the cycle of crime, after the programme was established in Northcote by Community Constable Mike Tafua and Dame Lesley Max three years earlier.

Grubner had seen the benefit of HIPPY in his own family, as his daughter Cindy-Anne was getting “straight A’s” at school and helped him gain confidence.

Northcote HIPPY Graduation 1996

Grubner and his daughter Cindy-Anne had originally become involved with HIPPY when the family lived in Glen Innes but transferred to Northcote HIPPY when the family moved to the North Shore.

When Deb Greenstreet, the Northcote Coordinator, enlisted him as a tutor, Grubner was keen. He wanted to contribute to the programme which, in his words, “had boosted his self-esteem and given his daughter a great start at school.”

Since becoming involved in HIPPY, Grubner had become actively involved in his daughter’s school and was considering becoming a teacher aide.

Almost a year after becoming a HIPPY tutor, Grubner was enthusiastic about HIPPY’s impact. He had developed strong friendships with the mums and even had three dads teaching HIPPY - although at first he had laughed that his biggest fear was “being in the company of women all the time.”

“The HIPPY programme brings a glimmer of light into families, and changes are happening for many of our HIPPY families,” Grubner says.

“All of a sudden there are households becoming strong.”