The sound of rangatahi singing, dancing and hooting with laughter drew people in droves to the E Tū Whānau tent at the recent Te Rā o Te Raukura at Te Whiti Park, Waiwhetu in Lower Hutt.
Te Rā o Te Raukura is a popular annual whānau festival which hosts a kapa haka event every year as part of the selection process for Wellington representatives at Te Matatini, the national kapa haka festival.
The E Tū Whānau tent was a safe haven for rangatahi and their whānau as well as being heaps of fun.
E Tū Whānau Kaimahi, Parehui Mafi and Mikaira Pau, set up a karaoke programme on their laptops, a couple of decent speakers and a hand-held mic. They then invited rangatahi to get up and perform in return for a $10 kai voucher to be spent on one of the festival food-stalls.
More than 40 groups or individuals took up the challenge, making it the busiest tent at the festival.
At times it was so full that there was standing room only but it was a nevertheless relaxed and perfect place for people to hear about and discuss the E Tū Whānau kaupapa and the message that whānau violence is not the Māori way.
E Tū Whānau is “a real mean kaupapa”
Tiaan Bonica, an 18 year old wahine from Stokes Valley, was one visitor to the tent. She sums up the experience in this thoughtful kōrero.
“I haven’t really known about what E Tū Whānau does but I’ve always seen the tents around Te Ra every year while growing up.
“Rangatahi these days I think are really losing the values that our tūpuna held – respect and tikanga mainly. But yeah, I guess these values are what E Tū Whānau is pushing and it’s a real mean kaupapa to get behind.”
“‘Me hoki ra ki ngā taonga tuku iho o ngā tūpuna’. You know, we need to go back to the gifts that our tūpuna handed down to us – our reo, our tikanga, kawa etc. If we can bring it all back then we can pave a better pathway for our rangatahi. ‘Cos we didn’t have all this hate and abuse. One of the papas used to say, ‘That’s a Pākeha thing, that’s a western mindset”. I was lucky to be brought up in a house of aroha.
Growing up with Māori values
“I know that a lot of my mates feel the same as we were all pretty much brought up with all those values manaakitanga, aroha, knowing our whakapapa, awhi kōrero etc. And so we’ve seen how growing up with those values can shape a person. Especially young Māori. And we’ve seen what growing up without it can do.
“I guess growing up with values gives not only a solid support system for rangatahi but also a sense of belonging in one’s culture. So what E Tū Whānau is doing is really choice and I hope that more people will hear about it and tautoko that kaupapa.”
Tiaan is the young woman speaking at the beginning of the video (top of page). It shows just a few of the performances by rangatahi during the day.
The photos below (scroll down – there are a few) capture some of the energy generated by the E Tū Whānau MCs and the rangatahi and their whānau who hung out in the E Tū Whānau tent at Te Rā o Te Raukura.