Creating opportunities for rangatahi in South Invercargill

‘If we can’t take the rangatahi to the opportunities, we’ll bring the opportunities to the rangatahi’ – If there was one way to describe Stacey Materoa’s role at South Alive, this would be it.

Stacey began working as the Rangatahi Project Co-ordinator in January 2023, after South Alive received funding from Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation through its Invercargill Initiative. The purpose of the role was to provide more opportunities for rangatahi in South Invercargill, and over 10 months, those opportunities have been coming in fast.

School holiday programmes, community picnics, rangatahi-led podcasts, and support service satellite events are just some of the ways Stacey helps to enable equitable access for young people in the south.

“We want to be the bridge that connects south Invercargill rangatahi to the rest of the city,” Stacey says.

“Transport is one of the biggest barriers for young people in the south, which means they’re not able to utilise many of the existing support services around the city.  By bringing those services and opportunities here, we’re helping to break those barriers.”

Every project falls under any four focus areas:

  1. Trust & Connection
  2. Spaces & Places
  3. Agency & Empowerment
  4. Exposure & Education

Importantly, the role is continuously shaped by the rangatahi Stacey works with, including a ‘rangatahi events crew’ who help to decide what initiatives are most important to them.

“For me it’s about giving them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s giving them a say and making sure they’re heard. It’s about showing up for them too; the type of things every young person needs.”

Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation community catalyst Mandy Smith says Stacey has been a huge asset to the Foundation’s Invercargill Initiative.

“The mahi Stacey does directly addresses many of the difficulties raised in our interactions with rangatahi. We know young people in South City are experiencing disproportionate rates of disadvantage and there are clear benefits in supporting a role like this in our community,” Mandy says.

The Rangatahi Engagement Co-ordinator role has already received funding from Te Rourou’s Thriving in Murihiku contestable fund for Stacey to continue her amazing mahi.