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Inspiring Māori youth

A two-day leadership summit unearths a panoply of young Māori talent in Napier.

Te Kahui o Tautoru summit3

Couch Sesh’, left to right: Hana Tapiata, Te Wehi Wright, Tauawhi Bonilla and Harlem Cruze talk “rangātahi doing meke things”.

It is up to you to decide what happens in your future, blogger, businesswoman and inspirational speaker Hana Tapiata told a rapt audience of high school seniors at the inaugural Te Kāhui o Tautoru young Māori leadership summit.

Held at the Napier Conference Centre over two days last month, the aim of the summit was to connect Napier’s younger Māori population with those who work at the forefront of Māori development, and to explore leadership, pathways and innovation for the long term benefit of local iwi, hapū, and this city.

A staff-initiated event, it was a first for Napier City Council, and a first for Napier. It linked to a number of strategies for youth, and Matariki REDS (Regional Economic Development Strategy).

The focus was on career pathways, encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset, and digital innovation, with opportunities to discuss these through workshops, find mentors and set goals.

Underpinning everything was te ao Māori, and what success looked like for Māori.

Hana, of Tūhourangi and Ngāti Porou, encouraged everyone to look to their whakapapa for guidance through life.


Hana Tapiata: "Your life is about the decisions you make, you get to decide how you spend your time and how you don’t, the impact you want to have and what you want to give to the world."

She recounted what it felt like to go from being on top, as a member of the development squad for the Black Ferns and Sevens teams, and having her dream job with her iwi, to being injured, no longer able to play rugby, and feeling burnt out at work. “Within two weeks two of the things I identified with were taken away from me... with the help of whakapapa and karakia I’m now in a really good spot.”

During that time of searching she went looking for the answers, not finding what she wanted, and ended up creating something for herself that has appealed to other people. She encouraged her listeners to toss any pre-conceived ideas of what it means to be Māori away. “Once you leave school there are so many possibilities of what you can do with your time, but a lot of people don’t choose. Your life is about the decisions you make, you get to decide how you spend your time and how you don’t, the impact you want to have and what you want to give to the world.”

Hana also shared the stage for a ‘Couch Sesh’ with former Miss Universe New Zealand Harlem Cruze, and Te Wehi Wright and Tauawhi Bonilla, who travelled with Dr Lance O’Sullivan to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

While this inaugural summit has been a pilot, the positive feedback has been overwhelming and the intention is now to look at a wider regional approach next year.

Other speakers included Monique and Henry Heke, Sarah Reo, Ministers Meka Whaitiri and Peeni Henare, Ben Tairea, Jeremy McLeod and Paul Henare. The presentations ranged from digital tech opportunities, the importance of te reo Māori, succeeding as teen parents, to being self-driven.

Major funders besides NCC included Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Social Development, and Anahera o Te Rangi Charitable Trust. NCC also worked with other agencies, such as Te Kupenga Hauora Ahuriri, Directions Youth Health, Sport Hawke’s Bay and EIT on the event.

9 July 2018

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