Pupils from the Te Rerenga Ake programme in term three, 2017, pictured on top of Mt Dick, Carterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

 

HAYLEY GASTMEIER

hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

 

Sixteen Wairarapa youths will be challenged mentally and physically over the next few months, while connecting with their past through a kaupapa Maori course.

Wairarapa police and Rangitane o Wairarapa, with support from Whaiora, jointly-organised ‘Te Rerenga Ake’ — a mentoring programme designed to build confidence and self-esteem in intermediate-aged rangatahi.

Pupils from Featherston School, Masterton Intermediate, Lakeview and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa gathered last Tuesday for their first of eight sessions with six role models from the community.

Mentor and Rangitane youth worker Mikey Kawana said the inspiration behind the course was to connect youths back to te ao Maori, or the Maori world, which many rangatahi were not readily exposed to these days.

“A lot of the youths last year were really shy when they first started the programme, but by the end of it they were full of life.”

Katarina Te Tau, a mentor from Whaiora, said the focus was to expose the 10- to 13-year-olds to different activities that would allow them to “walk in the footsteps of their ancestors”.

The rangatahi would learn about nutrition and exercise during the eight-week programme, based at Rangitane o Wairarapa at Kokiri Pl on Tuesdays.

Mau rakau, traditional Maori weaponry such as the taiaha, and raranga, the art of weaving, would also be explored.

Senior Constable Mark Brown said he was looking forward to seeing the youths grow into leaders over that time.

“It’s about bringing kids together from all walks of life and developing their leadership potential.”

Mr Brown, a youth aid officer and a mentor, said they would learn new skills and expand on old ones.

The youths kicked off their first week with teambuilding and coming sessions would see them learn about water safety, waka ama, and test their fitness with a hikoi, or trek, to the top of Mt Dick, in Carterton.

Te Ata Rogers, a teacher aide from Featherston School, said the programme was an “amazing” opportunity for the tamariki.

“It’s an opportunity for the Maori community to merge.”

Wairarapa police iwi liaison Joe Harwood said the programme got police and youths interacting in a positive light.

Each term, a different group of school children would be participating in ‘Te Rerenga Ake’, meaning journey of change.

Mr Harwood said each intake had follow-up sessions after they graduated from the programme, which first launched in 2016.

Rangitane youth workers Joe Potangaroa and Joe Nuku were also mentors.