Above are some of the youth involved in Nga Taiohi o Owhata.
Back from left to right – Waerea, Emily, Josiah, Zipphora, Haylee Steel, Rae, Hinerangi.
Front from left to right – Aaliyah Brown, Trinity, EJ, Zion
Youth often have a bad reputation but when you get to know us you will love us.” This was the comment made by Awatea Waiariki about a group of Eastside youth called Nga Taiohi o Owhata. Having worked alongside these youth, I can understand why Awatea said this. They are passionate about their community and making a positive difference where they live. The youth put the skills and knowledge they are developing to good use by leading and supporting initiatives which benefit their wider community.
Over the school holidays many of these youth planned and implemented (with support) a holiday programme. The first week was for youth and the second week was for those younger age groups.
The theme of Youth Week (21-29 May) was consistent with the kaupapa of Nga Taiohi o Owhata. “Giving back is Giving Forward” – youth were encouraged to give, whether it was the way they supported their family or community, the volunteer work they did, the help they gave their neighbours or the way they created space for others who are different from them.
Nga Taiohi o Owhata took up the challenge by planning and implementing a whole range of activities over Youth Week. Sunday was visiting residents at the Redwood Retirement Village hospital to perform and give gifts. Monday and Wednesday was displaying placards with positive messaging along Te Ngae Road. Tuesday was running a sausage sizzle at Rotorua Lakes High School to raise funds for Starship Hospital. Thursday was making gifts for the visit at the Children’s Ward at the Rotorua Lakes Hospital which took place on Friday. While at the Children’s Ward the youth read and played games with children on the ward. The positive messaging on the placards showed the heart of these youth—”Believe in yourself”, “Be adventurous, be brave, be humble”, “You are loved”.