Under The Bridge – a very New Zealand story of hope and dreams

Navigating your way through your final year at high school can be tough, and even tougher when you are at a decile 1 school on the wrong side of the tracks that is being threatened with closure. 

It takes a lot to rise above these disadvantages and to see school and education as the opportunity to change and improve things. Tough as it might be, students all over the country do just this every year 

Under the Bridge shows us a group of Papakura High School students coping with and making this transition. The documentary follows the lives of a trio of students - Wendy, Jayden and Robert - for a whole calendar year as they complete their final year of high school. The fourth personality in the programme is new Papakura High School principal, John Rohs. 

The personalities of the students shine through this 30-minute NZ Herald Focus documentary. Their honesty with the film crew and willingness to open up about gangs, bullying, hardship at home and the expectations they carry give the programme real credibility.  

The three are followed in classes, studying at home, playing sport, taking part in Polyfest and demonstrating their leadership. The issues, hopes and dreams Wendy, Jayden and Robert open up to and discuss are ones senior students all over New Zealand experience.  


Watch Under The Bridge (30 mins)

A bonus, if a programme this good needs one, comes in the song played over the credits at the end. Written and sung by fellow Papakura High School  student Melevesi Mafile'o, Under The Bridge has the same hard-to-beat spirit and attitude that the three students displayed in the documentary.  

Melevesi sings: "Broken homes, like being alone that's what everybody sees, broken families lost identities...that's not who we are, we're stars, just give us a chance we'll go far". 

And she is right. Melevesi herself is starting a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Auckland this year, while Wendy is aiming to study to become a social worker, Jayden is taking a year out to save for his studies and Robert is tidying up some missing credits before starting his sport science degree at the Manukau Institute of Technology. They all will, as Melevesi sings, go far. 

Thanks to the NZ Herald Focus team for allowing access to Under The Bridge 

To listen to or download the song Under the Bridge click here 

The programme maker tells why she made Under The Bridge