Lifting the morale of Waikato rangatahi Māori in uncertain times

Published on Rāpare, 30 Paengawhāwhā, 2020

Waikato rangatahi group Koroī wanted to support other young Māori through the isolation of COVID-19 so they put some of their own humble budget towards local initiatives.

This included funding towards a Māori student university group, the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) and education provider NZMA.

Te Puni Kōkiri Waikato has been working collaboratively with Koroī for almost a year and its members are involved in areas like local government, Māori health and the tertiary sector. Koroī provide advice, make recommendations and attend regional kaupapa to ensure the rangatahi voice is reflected and genuinely considered.

Once lockdown happened Koroī priorities shifted to supporting rangatahi Māori in Waikato through this difficult time. This meant rangatahi reaching out to their own networks, understanding what kaupapa are currently being rolled out in the community and assisting in that way.

The University of Waikato’s newly established student rōpū Māori, Te Kāuru, are one of the groups Koroī supported. COVID-19 changed the way everyone in Aotearoa is operating, but the challenges for Te Kāuru were on the issues affecting tauira Māori.

It recognised that going from an educational space that provided in-class learning, tutorials, the library, and a network of friends to nothing can be a daunting transition for students.

Te Kāuru decided to capitalise on the accessibility of the virtual world to support their members. Over the last few weeks, they have been hosting online digital wānanga, hauora sessions and weekly incentivised challenges to lift the morale of Māori students during these uncertain times.

Te Kāuru co-president Luke Moss (Ngāti Maniapoto) says he thinks the Koroī pūtea has helped students in a time where they “needed it the most.”

“Prizes for our kaupapa included a $50 supermarket voucher. For some students who relied on part time work during the lockdown they were finding it hard to keep up with rent and other essentials. Not only did the funding help with their financial situation, the kaupapa we ran helped pull people together and make them feel a part of a whānau,” he says.

Regional Manager for Te Puni Kōkiri (Waikato- Waiariki) Rachel Jones says working with Koroī is an opportunity for the Ministry to connect with rangatahi who understand the different movements within the Waikato rangatahi community.

“Our rangatahi are our future and it has been great to see their resilience in creating and supporting initiatives that keep them connected while we’ve had to remain isolated and apart,” she says.

The Koroī rōpū has four rangatahi: Cassidy Temese (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāpuhi) Daynah Eriepa (Ngāti Haua), Tyler Te Kiri (Ngai Tūhoe) and Rangipare Belshaw-Ngaropo (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Te Rarawa) who is a rangatahi kaimahi for Te Puni Kōkiri. 

The push for this rangatahi advisory group came from developing a Waikato rangatahi strategy, focused on rangatahi centred approaches for youth development and success.

Kōroi are funded by Te Puni Kōkiri and the group are continuing to look for rangatahi initiatives to support during Level Three lockdown.



Photo:The University of Waikato rōpū Te Kāuru pictured at Te Kohinga Mārama Marae on campus.

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