Youth summit tackles tough questions

2 NOV, 2018 | Tāmaki News

Young people from around New Zealand gathered at the inaugural Te Ara Moana - indigenous youth leadership summit to talk frankly about the tough issues like youth suicide and cyber bullying.  

Held at the end of July, the summit was run for young indigenous leaders between ages 15-25 years tasked with navigating an uncertain future in a global community. It acknowledged and celebrated indigenous ways of knowing how to empower future leaders, and attracted 170 attendees with at least 40 rangatahi from Tāmaki.  Urutapu - part of the Mad Ave Community Trust - ran the summit.

Tāmaki resident Ramona Pagaialii said the small group discussions were really important as they gave everyone the comfort and confidence to talk about the sensitive topics a lot of us try to avoid.

“Young people felt safe to discuss things like suicide and bullying, and boys who were not allowed to speak out at home, found their voice and were able to express their vulnerability.

“I loved how the kaupapa created a safe space for Māori and Pasifika youth to not be anyone else but themselves.  It was amazing and there were lots of tears and hugs at the summit,” says Ramona.

Keynote speakers included cultural expert Herewini Jones who has worked in the New Zealand prison system and spent a significant amount of time with First Nations people in the USA, Canada and Polynesia.  Other Keynote speakers were Waimirirangi Koopu Stone and Ta Moko Ormsby who have just returned from Geneva and New York City as part of a youth council representing indigenous views.

Jazmine Topia-McCausland,  an employee of TRC, attended the summit and described the experience as "awesome," adding it was great to be able to sit and learn with other indigenous youth. 

“The best thing for me was that it really helped me to embrace my culture and keep it with me wherever I go.  It was a reminder to be proud of who I am and where I come from.

“I learnt about leadership and the need to find a passion and not let anyone hold me back from pursuing the things I am passionate about ‘e ngakau nui ana kia koe’, (what you really love”)” she says.

Ten interactive, fun and engaging action workshops designed to learn through doing were another highlight of the summit.  Wayfinding for the 21st century gave attendees an opportunity to join the Glen Innes youth crew on the Waitemata harbour learning ancient seafaring principles on a traditional Māori waka.  Another workshop, Sustainable Coastlines, focused on conservation and looked at how we can make an impact on our environment to take care of our moana and takutai. 

Summit organiser, Urutapu programme director Veeshayne Patuwai, says she was pleased with the high level of interest and attendance at the first summit and felt it lived up to expectations.

“As well as creating new friendships, meeting and interacting with some powerful leaders, young people got to think about how our cultural ways of knowing can help us navigate the future.   

“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  Its success has given us the confidence to plan for an annual event in Aotearoa and continue to let the summit grow and evolve” says Veeshayne.

TRC was proud to partner with Urutapu to support 40 Tāmaki young leaders to attend the summit and enjoy the opportunity to meet like-minded young leaders.  Another partner Ngāti Whatua Ōrakei provided the summit with a beautiful space and backdrop.

Tyla Witika summed up saying attending the summit was a really cool experience with a lot of different, presentations, workshops and discussions to challenge us and learn from.

My highlight was the final presentation and seeing what everyone had learnt over the weekend.  I also learnt we can be whoever we want to be if we put our minds to it,” says Tyla.