Tu Kaha mobile classroom changing the lives of rangatahi

Te Puni Kōkiri has partnered with Tu Kaha Foundation to deliver an educational values programme to rangatahi focusing on great decision-making and building resilient leaders through a purpose-built mobile classroom. 

Published: Tuesday, 11 September 2018 | Rātū, 11 Mahuru, 2018

"It's a mobile classroom.  People in Tikitiki or Tolaga Bay or Ruatoki can't come to us, but we can go to them," says Pera Te Amo (Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou), owner and director of Complete Siteworks Limited, and founder of the mobile classroom.

"We take the school to them, we take the teacher to them, and we're able to educate and hopefully help engage that kid to do better."

"It's about trying to educate kids that there's actually better things out there to aspire to."

The values programme is delivered to year 5-9 students at decile one schools.  The overall objective of the programme is to connect and reconnect rangatahi with their whakapapa, language, culture and identity, and to build resilience and self-belief.

"What I like about the mahi is that it really does get to the younger age groups, so its working with kids that are still in primary and we can help to instill some of the values they learn at home with their whānau," says Tom Pickering, Tu Kaha Foundation Kaiako (Teacher).

"Getting them talking about it and sharing those values with each other, and making it normal to be proud of your culture and your identity."

The Tu Kaha mobile classroom is a free resource available to primary schools including kura kaupapa.  It has been around the Auckland and Wellington region but can travel to any interested school.

"We go to the schools and the kids sees the big black truck, it gets them excited straight away."

The Tu Kaha Foundation hopes 2,400 pupils will go through the values programme during the 40 week school year.

"Holy Family School is a very diverse community in Cannons Creek, Porirua," says Chris Theobald, Principal Holy Family School.

"For us the Tu Kaha Foundation coming to support our school is really adding another strength to what we are doing here."

"We have students who come from all these different backgrounds and we want for them to develop their own sense of purpose and identity."

"Our school values of respect, excellence, love and integrity have been built into our programme, as well as our phenomenal monsters who teach our kids about mafana, warmth, grit, I can attitude, optimum, being the best we can be, as well as mana, having self respect and respecting others."

"So these characteristics and traits are also being reinforced by the Tu Kaha instructors and team. It just builds on and strengthens what we do."

The values programme helps identify the strengths and talents each rangatahi has inside of them.  Teachers reinforce the importance about being a good person and good decision maker and puts supportive and encouraging messages into their lives.

"If we change the mindset of the kid in between that age group, they can go home to their parents and hopefully say to them 'I've got an opportunity to make a career out of myself'," says Pera Te Amo.

"It's about tu kaha, tu tangata.  It's about us, stand up, stand proud, and seeing a kid smile and leave the classroom engaged, that's exciting for me."

Pera Te Amo grew up in Taneatua, Bay of Plenty with 10 brothers and three sisters.  He says there wasn't much for them as kids so as a business owner he considers himself lucky to be able to give back to rangatahi.

[Sadly Pera Te Amo passed away suddenly in 2018 but his passion and commitment to rangatahi Māori remains strong within his whānau and the Tu Kaha Foundation.]

Te Puni Kōkiri is supporting Tu Kaha mobile classroom through our Rangatahi Suicide Prevention Fund, and the Matika - Moving the Maori Nation Fund (which is no longer available).

Watch a video on this kaupapa here.