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Our waka hourua as TiraRangatahi

Whai wahitanga for us is messy and organic, it is not a flowchart or a ladder or a neat picture – it is a mess of stormy moana on which our rangatahi-led waka navigates through the waves of power, barriers, the storms and successes and we want to talk you through our waka hourua wahi wahitanga haerenga.

At the beginning of our whai wahitanga journey, rangatahi said Youth Voice is not working.

They were disappointed at how whai wahitanga was in their communities. They talked about times when they have tried to have a voice in their spaces but were not heard. Youth advisory groups like Youth Councils were not representative and often dominated by young people in school leadership positions. They felt that national youth voice opportunities were not open to them. This is where they challenged us to “turn it upside down” and to seek out opportunities to involve young people who are marginalized, not often heard and where leadership opportunities weren’t ever offered. Our focus has always been about empowering rangatahi and valuing their korero so with the information we have, we built our whai wahitanga waka.

Whakapapa, Manaakitanga, Tuakiri, Mana Taurite, Kaitiakitanga

Our values are our stars that guide us. Our values are what guide, manage, govern and provide structure to everything that we do. From meetings with the board (could be an intimidating space, but our value of tuakiri in knowing exactly who we are and who we represent allow us to stick to our guns), to supporting and resourcing other rangatahi with their projects (our value of manaakitanga shines through where we are not just a funder for your projects, we actively get in the trenches with you to support you and mentor you through your kaupapa). and even bringing our tamariki along to all our kaupapa as they are the kaitiaki of our future.

We are very much a values driven rōpū, and much like the tipuna before us, we use our values, as our whetu to navigate us and provide us safe passage on our rangatahi led journey.

Te moana, the ocean is ever changing, adaptable and flexible which can be an unnerving adventure for new voyagers, both rangatahi and adults. The big ocean of whai wahitanga has a lot of potential, unknowns and amazingness. Being fluid, going with the flow, being adaptable has been really important with how we do this. 

Our conversations with rangatahi changed after each wānanga, as our whakaaro shifted. We explored how rangatahi felt supported in their community, what kinds of opportunities they saw for them, how they saw their futures, and what they would like to see change in their community. We took our ideas back to rangatahi in different communities so what we do is connected to their whakaaro and mātauranga. 

Sometimes the whai wahitanga journey can have waves where organisations and rangatahi can feel a little out of control, can feel uncomfortable. Whai wahitangi can take us into unknown spaces which makes us feel a little unstable in our waka hourua as the waves move around us. taking risks in a way for a board and for rangatahi where the waves can surge you forward and you get better at surfing them, waves are like untapped potential they can feel scary but they are beautiful and you can work with them as you learn more and step outside of your comfort zone to try new innovative ways of doing things

The whenua is about the destinations we are going to. 

  • Where do rangatahi want to get to? 
  • Where do they come from? 
  • Where does an organisation and board want to get to? 
  • Are we all going the same direction? Are we seeking the same destination? 


The Action Plan was the first destination for us and now the destination is achieving our vision through all our funding plans and making different funding programmes for rangatahi.

Ngā Toka Tu Moana or the rocks are those things which catch you out. They are hidden hierarchy. They are hidden scope and unconscious bias. You might not see them until you are right on top of them. They are challenges and barriers you might not have thought about. The challenges of Ngā Toka Tu Moana for us has highlighted the significance of high trust relationships & good engagement between all parties which are built upon a collective set of core values. 

Kōkō, whether it is a gentle breeze or a gale force storm can help or hold back your whai wahitangi journey. In our model, winds are different perceptions and types of power. Just like wind, power is hard to see and hard to define. 

It is the power of rangatahi, of the Board, of staff, of our whānau and hapori.It is the power we want to nurture with rangatahi we give funding and support to. For us, power is about our influence, us building influence and using our knowledge to influence the board so we can support our rangatahi in our communities through the funding. It is about systems change and flipping the switch. Power is also about opportunity for us to make change. We grow power as individuals and our collective power as we work together as one. Both wind and power are not a constant thing. There have been lots of changes in the wind which have changed our journey in this kaupapa. It’s about working with the changing winds and being aware of how we all have and use power.