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Success built in a ‘myriad of ways’

A REAP Wairarapa programme aimed at helping at-risk rangatahi “realise their potential” is achieving success in Masterton.

Ngā Pūmanawa Tūpuna, which means “to embrace the skills and talents of our ancestors”, is a tikanga-based work readiness programme targeted at 16- to 24-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training [NEETs].

NPT aims to reduce the number of existing NEETs, and preventing at-risk rangatahi [young people] becoming NEET in the first place – by working with youth to find pathways into sustainable employment and higher education, and teaching the skills needed for success in the workplace.

The programme, which has been running for the past 18 months, has a particular focus on engaging young Māori.

Masterton is home to many vulnerable Māori youth who feel disengaged from their community, the programme’s team leader Ricky Dey said.

“We strive to help young people feel believed and part of a community, connect back to their culture, their value, whānau and whenua, so they feel important.”

Adopting a tikanga-based approach includes kaiarahi [staff] sharing values that reflect a Māori “way of being” for working with rangatahi: Such as showing genuine care for young people and their futures, believing all young people have the capacity for greatness, and being personally resilient.

“These values form part of the core business of the programme. In essence, they define who we want to be and how we want to be as a group,” Dey said.

NPT participants are also taught about local and personal whakapapa, learn basic te reo Māori, and practice kawa, or protocols, including karakia, mihimihi, waiata, whakatapu and whakanoa [the processes of making something sacred or common].

The tikanga-based approach helps to meet the core human needs of at-risk Māori youth, Dey said.

“When Māori youth feel welcomed, valued, safe in their own culture, have a relational sense of belonging, and know they will be cared for holistically, they are more likely to engage in and be successful in the desired learning.”

The programme has had multiple successes, Dey said.

“One rangatahi was offered a position at the New Zealand Film School – where they went on to finish in the top 10 per cent of their class and find employment within the film and television industry.”

For another student, NPT is helping them realise their goal of becoming a marine biologist.

About one-third of NPT’s rangatahi leave the programme to achieve full or part-time employment, and all are offered the chance to sit their learners, restricted or full driving licence with ongoing support from REAP staff.

But success at NPT is not just measured by employment offers.

“We see successes occur in a myriad of ways,” Dey said.

“This may be a young person getting out of bed, choosing to come to the course instead of isolating themselves and making unhealthy choices.”

One male student, 19, part of this year’s NPT cohort, said the programme helped him become more motivated and self-aware.

“I manage my time better now that I have to get up early to attend the programme. Otherwise, I’ll miss it, and I won’t be happy because I enjoy it,” he said.

NPT is also fostering powerful friendships amongst attendees.

“Watching them find these connections highlights how being in a group environment can affect self-esteem and connection to a wider community,” Dey said.

For more information, visit https://www.reapwairarapa.nz/nga-pumanawa-tupuna/

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