The group was part of the Big Camp 2020 Te Waipounamu Hīkoi of Hope – a kaupapa about building local connections to improve rangatahi wellbeing and resilience.
Te Puni Kōkiri was on board and supported youth education and development rōpu Te Taitimu Trust, through its Rangatahi Suicide Prevention Fund.
Zack Makoare, CEO of Te Taitimu Trust says the hīkoi aimed to inspire whānau to take the lead on helping rangatahi, and not wait until it’s too late.
“We have 25 per cent of our kids that are at risk. The other 75 per cent are great. What we’re trying to do is utilise the expertise of those whānau that have got great kids and are great role models as parents,” says Zack.
With an overall focus on rangatahi mental health and wellbeing the hīkoi gave rangatahi opportunities to develop coping skills when faced with stress and challenges, to strengthen their identities, to reinforce connections with others and develop leadership skills and other opportunities.
Along the journey the ope stopped in at Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington), Waitohi (Picton) and Ōtautahi (Christchurch).
Zac Makoare estimates the Trust has supported around 3000 whānau since it was established in 2007. He is grateful for the support Te Puni Kōkiri, other organisations, services and individuals have provided along the way.
“The hīkoi marked the Trust’s 25th anniversary. So what’s next for us? To grow the hīkoi even bigger, so that we can help even more rangatahi, whānau and local communities.”