Around 3pm every weekday, primary and secondary aged rangatahi come streaming through the doors of Takiri Mai te Ata Whānau collective offices in Wainuiomata Community Hub.
They’re there for Tihei Rangatahi, a homegrown youth programme run by local whānau under the korowai of Seaview’s Kokiri Marae.
The first stop for most rangatahi is the kitchen. There’s always a hearty soup on the go or fresh muffins made by their whānau of volunteers with donated ingredients by services such as Kaibosh and Whānau in Arms.
Some head to the small music production studio to learn, and make, music with Mana Ake Tutor, Thomas Taite. Others go upstairs to NuiFM, Wainuiomata’s community radio studio, and try their hand at programme making. Sometimes rangatahi are there for sport, or the hip hop class or the science and environmental awareness programme. They’re making art, playing chess, learning to cook, or planning and making costumes for special events like the E Tū Whānau Wearable Arts Show held in early 2019.
“We don’t want it structured like school, but we are ambitious for our rangatahi,” says team leader Renee Davies.
“We encourage them to express themselves creatively. We build their confidence and help them find strength within. We even help them identify possible careers.”
Tihei Rangatahi was started four years ago by local volunteers wanting to ensure all rangtahi in their rohe had somewhere to go after school where they could be safe, well fed and challenged to be ‘young, budding leaders of tomorrow’.
Young people were already visiting the Wainuiomata community hub to use the library or try their hand at broadcasting on the community radio station based there. Convincing the council to let Tihei Rangatahi operate there was a no brainer.
Renee and the team always welcome fresh ideas and offers from whānau to teach or share skills. That’s how the popular hip hop and chess classes started.
“I really believe that communities know what’s best for communities and Tihei Rangatahi provides whānau with a platform to share their awesome skills, experience and ideas.”
That close connection with their community means Tihei Rangatahi can identify needs as they arise and act quickly to make things happen.
This year’s pilot programme helping rangtahi in their last year or two in primary school transition to high school is a good example.
“A good experience of that transition can make the difference between a good or bad experience at high school, or whether they stay at school at all,” Renee says.
Tihei Rangatahi is just one example of the practical and effective mahi done by whānau in their own communities that E Tū Whānau encourages and supports.
“E Tū Whānau believes in us and our kaupapa. It’s an aspirational kaupapa, outcomes focussed, and strength based, and so are we,” says Renee.
In a recent newsletter to all its stakeholders, Tihei Rangatahi had this to say about E Tū Whānau.
“Thank you for enabling us to give back to the Wainuiomata community in more ways than one – Tenei te mihi nui ki a koutou katoa. We are quite certain the community of Wainuiomata feels the immense manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and kotahitanga – coming together of all peoples.”
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