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Ready to launch into the world

In part three of a four-part series, features writer ANGELA YEOMAN records the stories of some of the rangatahi [young people] transitioning from Mākoura College in 2023.

Last week, we read about Aly, one of Mākoura College’s Year 13 students who is about to leap into her future. She has academic but practical plans and the motivation to follow them through. Today, we investigate the stories of other Mākoura College students with different passions and plans.

Milly’s story

Building on her love of the outdoors and her ability to teach children, Milly has applied for assistant roles at camps in England, America, and Denmark.

“Teaching children aged eight to twelve is my favourite,” Milly says.

“I’ve studied outdoor education at Mākoura for several years, including high ropes, abseiling, mountain biking, and surfing.”

Attending Outward Bound for three weeks, she most enjoyed sailing and meeting young people from all over. Milly went with the school for a week to the Hillary Outdoors Education Centre and, another time, on a school ski trip.

Milly’s family – comprising her Samoan father, pakeha mother, and an older brother – is very close.

“The first day of being away from my family is always hard,” she says, “but then I get into it and have the time of my life. Being able to do outdoor education at school has shown me what I’m good at. School has fostered my talents and prepared me for my next steps.”

In Year 9, Milly participated in Army Cadets and during the recent school holidays Milly spent a week at Auckland’s Navy Base – one of only 12 students across the country who were accepted. Milly is sad about leaving behind friends to work in an overseas camp, but hopes they’ll come and visit. Friends are important.

“In summer, we are always out and about at beaches and rivers, or up Mt Holdsworth. In winter, we chill out together at home.”

The Samoan Church is part of Milly’s life when her grandparents come to visit. Otherwise, she has a strong belief in God but doesn’t need to go to church for that.

“God has helped us become who we are. He’s always by our side and is never going to leave us. If you have no-one else, remember that God is with you.”

Looking forward 10 years, Milly hopes to be living overseas and working as an outdoor instructor. Describing herself as strong, kind, caring, and independent, Milly knows what she likes and where she’s going.

Hari’s story

Preparing to leave school for a building apprenticeship in Auckland, Rihari [known as Hari] is looking forward to getting back up to South Auckland where he grew up, much of his family lives, and he feels at home in the wider Pasifika community.

Year 13 Dean and Futures teacher Therese King says she’s proud of Hari. He’s been with Mākoura College since Year 10, is leaving with NCEA Level 3 in Health and Safety and First Aid courses, and has made good use of the Gateway Programme, including work experience one day a week for 10 weeks with a local building company.

With the stature of a rugby builder, it’s no surprise Hari has played for both the college and Wairarapa Bush. Born into the Mormon church, religion is important for Hari and his whole family, including his Māori mother, Nuie Cook Island father, and his three older sisters.

“We are all children of God,” he says. Hari’s life is guided by God who is someone he can talk to.

“He looks after us, and that’s comforting.”

Although Hari describes himself as quiet and hardworking, he also enjoys fun and – with his versatile voice – is a keen participant of Mākoura College’s performing arts Poly Group, which is similar to kapa haka.

Hari’s 10-year dream is to have become a builder and, maybe, to have another trade under his belt: to be an electrician or a plumber. He intends to own, maybe build, his own house and he might be married with children by then.

“It’s a work in progress,” he says.

There’s also another dream – of going to Massey University and becoming a pilot. Even if that dream doesn’t eventuate, it sounds like Hari will have his hands full with building, family, community, and church.

Julia’s story

The tattoo on Julia’s inner arm reads, “Be still and know that I am God,” from Psalms 46:10.

Brought up in a Pentacostal household, the youngest of seven children, Julia says she’s always had a strong faith and was baptised aged 14.

“I was ready to publicly declare that I was choosing God and following Jesus in being baptised,” she says.

“I was born with chronic anxiety. I also have depression, dyslexia, I’m possibly autistic and, as a bonus, I have ADHD and OCD. Prayers calm my anxiety and help me with my depression. I pray all the time and it’s comforting. I can feel how big God is.”

At Mākoura College, Julia has a wide group of friends and art is the subject she has enjoyed the most. Once school finishes, her plan is to move to Christchurch, flat with friends, and get a tattoo apprenticeship. She’ll have to find a paying job as well, “maybe in retail”. At some point, a fine arts degree at Canterbury University is on the cards.

In 10 years, Julia says, “If everything goes to plan, I’ll be teaching art in a secondary school and I’ll have a cool, edgy backstory as a tattoo artist.”

Julia’s leaving college with UE and NCEA Level 3.

“I’ve worked really hard,” she says. “I’ve got goals and I’m determined to achieve everything on the road to those goals.

“I’m anxious but excited. I’m not looking forward to the process of finding a flat and a job, but once that’s done, I’m excited about the future.

“I feel lucky. I’ve had some really good experiences and teachers at Makoura College: Miss Beddis and Mr Nesbit have helped my art flourish. Mr Hutchby, my English teacher, is fantastic. I did work experience at an early childcare education centre. I don’t want to work with young children as a career, but I loved the experience and missed the kids afterwards.”

Olive’s story

With her favourite subjects at school being maths and photography, and her biggest love being animals, Olive’s plan is to do a degree in Zoology and spend her life working with animals.

“Plan A is to work in a conservation park or rescuing animals. Plan B is animal photography.”

Either way, Olive’s 10-year dream is to work in Africa. Next year, Olive’s taking a gap year to earn some money.

“Then I hope to move to Palmerston North with a friend to go to Massey University.”

She describes herself as chatty and loud when she’s with friends but closed off to people she doesn’t know and, while she’s not religious, she believes there’s “something out there”.

With UE and NCEA Level 3, Olive is also smart enough to know that even if her Plans A and B don’t work out, there will be other opportunities for her.

Brought up on a lifestyle block with lots of animals, and with a father who’s an environmental scientist, Olive’s love of animals is a sure thing.

Being autistic, “my superpower is maths”, she says, “and my maths teacher is great”.

Olive has a good bond with her photography teacher too. “We have lots of laughs. Sometimes, when I do extra photography classes, I get one-on-one help.”

Olive describes her early years at school as “tough” but her years at Mākoura College as “less tough”. Having found a group of like-minded friends has helped, along with the support of her teachers.

“In some subjects I need things explained. I struggle with chemistry, for example, but my dad also helps with that.”

Olive describes herself as an anxious person who worries she won’t meet the high expectations she sets herself. Her parents, however, have explained that we are always learning. “Never stop learning,” they say.

“I work hard not to get side-tracked,” she says, “and I do extra work at home.”

Milly, Hari, Julia, and Olive are only four of the many and diverse rangatahi transitioning from Mākoura College in 2023 – all with plans, and some choosing non-traditional paths.

    The last instalment of this series will be published next Saturday.

    Angela Yeoman is a features writer for the Wairarapa Times-Age, a social researcher, and an author. Visit praxeum.org.

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