"A haircut or even just a smile, can totally lift a persons spirit."
Those are the words of Auckland barber Caleb Heke, who manages Kirkwoods Barbers, a fully Māori owned and operated business based in Mt Wellington.
Caleb recently posted up a video (filmed and edited by videographer Jarrod Brown) on social media which documents his journey offering free haircuts to the homeless in downtown Auckland.
By offering a free haircut to the homeless, Caleb is able to sit them down and have a korero with them about their lives, which he says is his way of giving back to the community.
"I begun to get involved with community initiatives and giving back once I started working here. Giving back is a big part of what is fostered here at Kirkwoods Barbers" said Caleb.
"I sat down with my mentor and discussed how I could impact the community more, he’s taught me to be big on giving in abundance and using the skills I have to impact communities."
The team at Kirkwoods Barbers are no strangers to this kind of kaupapa, as Caleb states they have been offering their free professional services to the homeless for two years.
"We as a shop have actually been cutting the homeless communities for over 2 years, but never recording their stories"
The stories are what makes this kind of kaupapa so special.
Great barbers can often offer an almost therapeutic stlye of conversation that puts us at ease and creates an atmosphere of comfort. An atmosphere like that can commonly breed great conversation, where stories can be shared and heard.
That level of comfort is seldom afforded to the people who live on the streets in downtown Auckland, and through the power of conversation (and a tight fade) Caleb, and videographer Jarrod Bown, are looking to uplift the homeless so they feel empowered to share their stories.
"I heard the most amazing stories from the less fortunate, from being in wars, ex professional actors, dancers, all sorts of amazing stories" says Caleb.
"I wanted to show that these people also have a story and highlight, that although they’re at a low point of their life, a haircut or even just a smile, can totally lift a persons spirit."
The legends at Kirkwoods Barbers will continue to do their invaluable work in the community, and Caleb has ensured us that he will continue to document and share the stories of the incredible people he meets along the way.
"I will be continuing to do this every week as I always have, but also will begin to share these amazing souls' stories."
Finally, a big shout out to Kirkwood Barbers for the work they've been doing in the community, make sure to follow their journey too as the continue to do incredible things for those who need it most.