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Phat Chats: young kiwis redefining what masculinity means

Masculinity. In New Zealand it’s so often tied to a “she’ll be right” attitude – toughness and keeping your feelings bottled up are the norm. Anyone not adhering to these unspoken rules can feel like they don’t belong. 

Zeal Kāpiti’s newest boys group, named “Phat Chats” by the young people, is redefining what it means to be a man in today’s society. They meet up every Tuesday to hang out, talk things through, and build a sense of connection with each other.

“It started off from seeing the success of Girls Group here in Kāpiti,” says Sean, Phat Chats facilitator. “The boys were asking why they didn’t have something like that for them – so they made one!”

The groups typically start off with throwing a ball around, sharing some kai and then breaking in to the Banter Box – where the boys can anonymously write down questions or topics for the group to discuss.

“The idea is to have the Year 12 boys running the group, with Zeal staff just acting as facilitators,” says Sean. “We see them as the role models for younger men in their schools and friend groups.”

Through opening up avenues for conversations, the Phat Chats crew hopes to create new ideals for healthy masculinity. 

If you’re in the Kāpiti area and are keen to get involved with Phat Chats, flick Sean an email at sean@zeal.org.nz.