Youth of the District

They say it takes a Village to raise as child – and our district has a series of villages and a lot of Children.

As a passionate advocate for the youth of our district, I wanted to highlight some of the excellent achievements and opportunities that some of our young Māori people are involved with and the wonderful organisations supporting them.

The Youth Programme - “Whakapiri te oranga o nga uri whakatipu - Embracing the Maori way of life on the Marae with and for our rangatahi “ led by the Hakatere Māori Wardens, has nurtured young Māori youth in our district over the past 12 months. The initiative is all about encouraging and empowering at risk youth to reconnect with their culture and community. Students have participated in activities such as learning Māori carving techniques, collection of kai (through fishing), Kapa Haka and Mau Rakau (traditional martial arts). It’s been heart-warming watching the change that has occurred in the 30 youth that undertook the 12-month programme.

The programme, a first (and potential template) for New Zealand, couldn’t have happened without the $30,000 of funding from Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Māori Development), and the support of Latoya Leef-Graham, Alex McLeod, Weka Laws-Walker, and Huata Martindale. For more information about the inspiring work that Māori Wardens do around the country, visit and search ‘Māori wardens.’

It’s important, particularly for young Māori, to have strong role models. People like Erana Te Moananui. Erana is the former head girl of Mt Hutt College and is currently studying criminal justice and sociology at the University of Canterbury. I have been fortunate to build a strong relationship with Erana through the Tuia mentorship programme. The Tuia Programme is an initiative led by Local Government New Zealand and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs to encourage and nurture leadership skills in Māori youth across the country.

The programme lets Erana explore local government and civic leadership, build strong networks within the district, and participate in community services projects. It’s also an opportunity for us to learn from one another, an experience that I have found especially beneficial. From 6 - 9 July, Erana will be in Rotorua at a hui with the other Tuia Programme participants from around the country, who she has made great connections with. Erana says being involved with the programme has been a life changing experience for her and has helped her learn more about her cultural identity. I am honoured to watch her leadership skills grow.

Ashburton College graduate Alyce Lysaght is a local Māori woman stamping her mark on the world. As the inaugural recipient of the prestigious NBS Alumni scholarship, as well as a host of other awards, she is now studying a degree in engineering at the University of Canterbury. With a keen interest in helping to fight climate change, she is aiming to specialise in Natural Resource Engineering. Alyce is also immersing herself within the wider academic community, as the first-year representative on the executive of the Women in Technology Society (WITSOC), a representative for the Student Volunteer Army, and an InSchools volunteer for Engineering without Borders. I’ll be following Alyce very closely as she continues her studies.

Winner of the Ashburton College Rakirua Trophy for the Top All-Round Achievement by a Māori student in Year 13 Veronica Wall is another incredible young Māori woman putting Ashburton on the map. The 18-year old is a rowing superstar, having just set a world record on her way to winning three gold medals at the New Zealand rowing championships at Lake Karapiro earlier this year. In August she will be competing for New Zealand at the Junior World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic. While it’s her third time competing at the Junior Championships, it is her first time competing in the singles competition. Fellow Ashburton rower Mollie Gibson will also be competing for New Zealand at the regatta in August. The whole district will be cheering Veronica and Mollie as they go for gold!

Erana Te Moananui, who will talk about her experience in the Tuia programme, and some representatives of the Rangatahi Wananga programme, will be at Council on Thursday 28 June.  This will give the community an opportunity to hear more about the great opportunities for youth in the district, I hope to see you there.​

Page reviewed: 16 Aug 2018 11:07am