Joy of being buddies


If you want to know the benefits of ‘Big Buddying’, ask Queenstowner Anna Arndt.

The Wakatipu Buddy Programme is appealing for locals willing to spend two or three hours a week with a child needing extra adult support.

Arndt has been a Big Buddy to six-year-old Gabby Soares for a year, and says it’s a “really enjoyable experience”.

Over summer she did water activities with him like kayaking and paddleboarding, and this winter she’s taken him skiing for the first time, starting on The Remarkables skifield’s Magic Carpet.

Gabby says he enjoys “going fast and doing jumps”.

“Gabby’s been great and he’s very much become part of our family,” Arndt says.

Asked asked what he likes about his pink-haired Big Buddy, he says it’s “her hair”.

Arndt says Big Buddies get “really good training”, and if they have any queries they’re welcome to call coordinator Nanette Benington.

Currently 32 Big Buddies are matched with 32 Little Buddies, but Benington’s appealing for more to join a training programme.

Children aged four to 12 are referred by agencies like Queenstown Lakes Family Centre, Happiness House and Oranga Tamariki.

This can be for a variety of reasons like learning difficulties or having only one parent.

Big Buddies are encouraged to do low- or no-cost activities with their Little Buddies, while occasionally there are organised outings such as one shouted by Queenstown’s Game Over.

“Feedback from schools and other referrers is that Little Buddies have better social skills, improved confidence and are often better behaved at home and at school,” Benington says.

Would-be Big Buddies can contact her at