PALM 2023, the fourth bi-annual Peaceful Action Leadership Movement (PALM) Symposium, which kicked off with a pōwhiri at Tarimano Marae on the shores of Lake Rotorua in the last week of September, was inspirational for Ihapera Waru-Martin, and many others.
Ihapera was one of more than a hundred rangatahi at PALM 2023. While most participants were rangatahi Māori, together they represented 23 ethnic communities from across Aotearoa. Over five days, participants explored opportunities for leadership development, personal connection, and cultural encounter.
Ihapera, who is already a highly motivated and effective kahukura or leader within her own community of Ōtara in South Auckland, said being part of the kaupapa stimulated her personal moemoeā or dream.
PALM 2023 made her realise that she can step up alongside other rangatahi to meet a range of social and personal challenges.
“You do have the option. You do have the choice. Your future is in your hands. It’s up to you if you take it. If you want to grow, you have to let some things go.”Ihapera Waru-Martin
The PALM kaupapa is powered by the vision that whānau and communities, and Aotearoa as a whole, are strengthened by rangatahi spending time kanohi ki te kanohi. It also encourages the belief that fostering relationships between different ethnic and social groups enables respect and connection among diverse rangatahi.
E Tū Whānau has organised and run PALM symposiums every two years since 2017 to nurture rangatahi leadership aspirations and networks across the motu.
The event this year attracted more rangatahi than ever before, which is indicative of a movement growing organically, under its own impetus.
Rangatahi working together in a Taha Wairua workshop
Leadership development activities
Strength to strength
PALM continues to go from strength to strength, with some rangatahi participants returning over the years to enjoy the inclusive atmosphere within which they are encouraged to express themselves personally and culturally.
Vyaan Kakau-Leef, Candis Brunning, Behishta Yahya-Zada, and Reremoana Walker-Sharp particiapte in a panel discussion
Patrima Tauira was one of three Masters of Ceremony at the event
The programme of whakawhanaungatanga, theme-based workshops, panel discussions and speeches centred on stimulating rangatahi to grow as people and as leaders.
“I’ve been attached to E Tū Whānau since 2014. Back then it was only 30 of us. That was the planning one. It’s flowered into over 100 of us. We planted that seed back then and this is what it’s become.”Damyian Windelborn-Rawiri
Rōpu worked together to develop leadership skills
Taha Tinana workshop
It was smiles all round during the workshops
Rangatahi stand in a circle learning tī rākau during a Taha Tinana workshop
Rangatahi worked as groups to reflect and learn about themselves and leadership
Rangatahi supported one another and cooperated, growing together as kahukura leaders
Te Kahu Rolleston delivered a warmly-received spoken word session
Resting on the foundation of the six E Tū Whānau values, the programme explored how Te Whare Tapa Whā supports healthy, sustainable indigenous leadership, while kōrero and panel discussions from community leaders inspired rangatahi to unleash their potential.
“A spark can come from within you, from your connections, your surroundings, your elders, or your beliefs. Now, it’s your turn. Share your story, ignite your spark, and unleash your potential. Remember, even the grandest creations started with a small spark.”Nabeela Ahmed, Speaker on Day 3
Rangatahi also enjoyed listening to, writing, and presenting spoken word pieces in a session run by acclaimed performance poet Te Kahu Rolleston.
For many, however, the highlight was the cultural event. Held on the closing night, this vibrant celebration of joy, unity and cultural pride was warmly received by all.
Waitomo Papakāinga perform during the cultural event
Afghan rangatahi perform during the cultural event
Rangatahi from various rōpu perform together at the cultural event
Rangatahi from Ōtara Youth Hub performed cultural items from several Pasifika cultures
Rangatahi from various refugee and migrant communities on stage during the cultural event
Leadership aspirations nurtured through shared stories at PALM 2023
For many who attended, the richness of the experience lay in the opportunities presented for rangatahi to engage with their own stories of struggle, growth, and change. In doing so, participants came to better understand their own strengths and priorities as young leaders within their whānau and diverse communities.
Many also realised that others share similar stories to their own.
“PALM breaks down barriers. It lets us hear each other’s stories.”Waila Michan Khel
Through sharing stories at PALM 2023, rangatahi appreciated, some for the first time, their place within a network of leaders united by vision of Aotearoa New Zealand as an inclusive and fair multi-ethnic society within which everyone is safe and able to reach for their dreams.
“My vision for myself in the future is to be in a position where I can do things, where I have the power to uplift those who need it, to bring others up so we’re at the same level.”Asmau Farouk