Hub aims to connect young with Maori culture

A new hub for rangatahi (young people) opened in Queenstown yesterday.

Te Hoeroa, based at the Toru apartments in Remarkables Park, was opened with the aim of connecting young Maori with their culture, but welcomed young people of any age or ethnicity.

More than 50 people packed the space during the opening ceremony, which Mana Tahuna chief executive Mike Rewi said was unexpected.

"The hub is something we’ve been really privileged to create ... a space that we’re comfortable being in, we’re comfortable being Maori, speaking Maori, learning Maori [and] connecting to our culture," Mr Rewi said in the opening speech.

The hub planned to run a programme, "Ka Hao te Rakatahi", to introduce rangatahi to different aspects of te ao Maori which would include education about things such as art, medicine and tukutuku panels.

Mana Tahuna rangatahi lead and engagement manager Sydney Wallace said the idea for the hub was in development for about six months and had hit a personal note for several people at the trust.

"Myself, our CEO [Mike Rewi] and our COO [Ebony Webster], we all grew up [in the Whakatipu] and we’re all Maori," Miss Wallace said.

"When we were growing up, there weren’t that many things related to kaupapa Maori in school ... we [saw] that there was a big gap - something that was really needed right now - just a space outside of school to show [rangatahi] their culture."

From Monday, rangatahi were able to visit the space daily from 3pm to 6pm and on Tuesday, Wakatipu high school’s te reo Maori classes would visit throughout the day.

"It’s pretty surreal seeing it done," Miss Wallace said.

The hub had hired a youth worker and was also looking for a social worker to help parents.

"We want it to be a safe space for parents to come and talk to us during school hours, with anything they want — if they’re having troubles at home, they can come talk to us," Miss Wallace said.

Te Hoeroa is jointly funded by Queenstown charitable trust Mana Tahuna, the philanthropic family J R McKenzie Trust and Central Lakes Trust.




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