Te Ōhaka Tīwhera Annual Report launched – Rakatahi Māori Fund

We have reflected on a year of rakatahi making important decisions in Murihiku through Te Ōhaka Tīwhera. We’re excited to launch this annual report to showcase the mahi of our rakatahi, and to shine a light on some of the community partners they supported throughout the year.

Over the past year, Te Rourou has been working alongside Murihiku rakatahi to develop our Rakatahi Māori Fund, gifted the name Te Ōhaka Tīwhera by the rōpū of rakatahi who administer it.

With our funding partners, Clare Foundation, Community Trust South, and Invercargill Licensing Trust Foundation, we have gifted this opportunity to our rakatahi – but the real taoka is the insight, expertise, and time the rakatahi have given to us.

Kā mihi nui to our rakatahi panel, and to the community they have supported.

“We are not just getting an opportunity to make a ‘one and done’ decision. We are being presented with the tools needed to create success in life, establishing future leaders.” – Mya Kairau, rakatahi panelist

Te Ōhaka Tīwhera Annual Report 2023

Data shows exclusion and disadvantage has increased among young people in Aotearoa over the past five years

TaiOHI Insights Report 2023 outlines the latest insights from OHI Data Navigator

Despite the best efforts of many community-focused organisations across the motu, the TaiOHI Insights Report 2023 shows a gradual increase in the number of rangatahi experiencing disadvantage in Aotearoa New Zealand, reaching 20.6% in 2022 compared to 20.3% in 2021 and 19.3% in 2018.

The third annual report released by Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation, draws from five years of data within the OHI Data Navigator (2018-2022), providing insights into systems-level shifts and data showing specific experiences of rangatahi.

The report highlights that across Aotearoa, 35% of rangatahi now live in areas with high levels of material deprivation, of these, 31% have experienced exclusion and disadvantage. On the flipside, for young people living in areas with low material deprivation, just 10% have experienced exclusion and disadvantage.

OHI Data Navigator is a free interactive platform that draws on government and community data, with its primary data source being the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) managed by Stats NZ. The data within OHI Data Navigator is focused on three areas to provide a view on exclusion and disadvantage – experiences of care and protection, justice, and education and employment – and is updated annually in May.

The TaiOHI Insights Report aims to highlight lived experiences of rangatahi through both data and storytelling, with an overall aim of creating a more equitable Aotearoa where rangatahi can thrive.

While one in five rangatahi continue to experience disadvantage and exclusion in Aotearoa, there are some green shoots. Education qualification attainment data for rangatahi Māori in South Invercargill, for example, show increases in the proportion of 16 to 25-year-olds attaining at least NCEA 1, 2 and 3 in the three years between 2018 and 2022.

Along with data from the OHI Data Navigator, the report includes a literature review of reports collated by the Child Wellbeing and Poverty Reduction Group, which sits within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Prioritising wellbeing, greater connectedness, and supporting aspirations for the future emerged as broad themes from rangatahi. The TaiOHI Insights Report 2023 then summarises seven recommendations, building on calls made in previous reports.

Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation continues to call for systems-level change, and the need to welcome and listen to the voices of those with lived-experience of exclusion and disadvantage, to drive real impact in our communities.

The Foundation is also trying to put this recommendation into practice within its work in Murihiku Southland. The rangatahi Māori fund, Te Ōhaka Tīwhera, is now entering its third year as a participatory funding panel with ten rangatahi helping distribute almost $160,000 to local community organisations from August 2023 to February 2024. By giving youth a voice and decision-making power, they can exercise tino rangatiratanga and help to create local solutions to problems faced by their peers.

TaiOHI Insights Report 2023

For more information on OHI Data Navigator, please visit www.datanavigator.nz.

Bluff teen punching to be Antony Welton Fellow for 2023

A $10,000 Fellowship awarded today will help a Bluff teenager fight to achieve his dreams of supporting young Māori and Pasifika in his community.

Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation announced Izaya “Izzy” Simeon as the recipient for the third annual Antony Welton Fellowship.

Izzy, a 19-year-old Motupōhue/Bluff local, aspires to be a boxing coach, and is passionate about supporting Māori and Pasifika young people to achieve their goals.

Southern Queens Boxing offers a “safe and positive environment” for Izzy, and he wanted to give back to the community the same way his coach, Faliu Mauu, does.

“I wish to empower Māori and Pasifika and shape the way they embrace learning and combat hardship while being proud of where they come from.”

A haerenga (journey) to explore his whakapapa is one of the first goals Izzy hopes to achieve, and he plans to shadow his boxing coach to learn the ropes, and eventually train rangatahi to overcome barriers in their lives through boxing.

Mauu says Izzy is someone she can really rely on in the gym and is always there to help out.

“He has made amazing changes in his life in the past 18 months. Izzy is definitely going to be a top-notch coach and I’m honoured to help him achieve that goal.”

The news of receiving the Fellowship has inspired Izzy to get started straight away, attending training this week with a new purpose, he says.

“I am so grateful to be receiving this volume of support! This belief in me has inspired me even further to push towards my goals and I can’t wait to start ticking them off.”

The Antony Welton Fellowship provides one young person each year with $10,000 to awhi (support) them towards their vision for the future. The Fellowship was formed in 2021 when, after 12 years, Antony Welton stepped down from his role as the Chair of One New Zealand Foundation (then the Vodafone NZ Foundation). In honour of his dedicated contributions and commitment to improving outcomes for rangatahi, the Antony Welton Fellowship was established with the support of One New Zealand and CEO Jason Paris who grew up in Invercargill.

The Fellowship is aligned to Te Rourou’s continued investment into the Invercargill Initiative and supporting local rangatahi to thrive.

Antony Welton Fellowship

Supporting Māori aspirations – Te Ōhaka Tīwhera rolling fund open for applications

Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation is excited to assist our rakatahi Māori panel in reopening Te Ōhaka Tīwhera, a fund designed to support the aspirations of Māori youth throughout Murihiku Southland.

The panel consists of eight rakatahi who have designed the fund and will be making decisions on where the funds should be distributed to best support their peers.

After the previous two rounds, comprising over $240,000 in grants, the panel have adapted the fund to reflect their learnings. Te Ōhaka Tīwhera is now a rolling fund and decisions will be made on a 6-weekly basis over the period of 22 September 2023 to 29 February 2024.

“One change we love is that the rakatahi have decided to start using the Kāi Tahu dialect for the fund, as it better represents their culture in Murihiku,” Te Rourou Community Catalyst Stac Hughes says. “So, we now refer to rakatahi Māori, instead of rangatahi Māori, for example.”

“The panel has also split the funds into different pools, which contribute to the overall goal of creating an equitable community for our young people. This shows how they have taken the fund and made it their own.”

The fund is proudly supported by Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation in partnership with Community Trust South, the Invercargill Licensing Trust Foundation, the Invercargill Licensing Trust, and Clare Foundation, who collectively believe rakatahi Māori are best placed to understand their own needs for support and cultural connection.

The categories of funding are:

Visiting Your Pepeha Fund

Individual grants of $2,000 available to financially support recipients to visit where they whakapapa to. Funds can be used towards travel, accommodation, food, koha, and taking a support person for the journey. Applications are open to rakatahi Māori aged 15-20, residing in Murihiku, who have whakapapa connections outside of the Otago/Southland regions.

Rakatahi-Led: Innovation in Schools

This fund gives rakatahi the chance to create projects, events, or initiatives that connect rakatahi to te ao Māori within their kura (school). The rakatahi said they wanted to see more rakatahi-led initiatives and were excited to offer each of the Invercargill high-schools up to $5,000 to support rakatahi initiatives.

Te Ōhaka Tīwhera – Contestable Fund

For the larger contestable fund, the rakatahi are looking for creative and innovative projects or initiatives that support rakatahi to connect with te ao Māori. This could be through the arts, sport and recreation, education / learning, hui, events or wānaka. They are also looking to support initiatives that encourage the use of tikaka and te reo Māori in the community. Applications of up to $15,000 are welcome.


Applicants for the rakatahi-led and contestable funds will be invited to pitch their project or initiative to the Te Ōhaka Tīwhera decision makers at one of their 6-weekly meetings.

For more information about the fund, including criteria and how to apply, visit Te Ōhaka Tīwhera Fund – Te Rourou, One Aotearoa Foundation


Weaving Hope: The story behind the mural

In 2019 Te Rourou worked on a temporary mural which was placed in the heart of Wellington, Te Ngākau Civic Square.

Making the Mural – the short story behind the making of ‘Weaving Hope’.


Weaving Hope tells the story of loss and hope. This work acknowledges the grief over the tragedy that happened in Christchurch on 15 March 2019, and presents a vision and hope for a more unified, accepting and diverse Aotearoa. The mural has been weaved together by local mural artist Ruth Robertson-Taylor, but the vision and key elements come directly from the Muslim community.

This work was co-created with the Muslim Students Association (VicMuslim), the International Muslim Association of New Zealand’s Committee, members of the Kilbirnie mosque community, and One New Zealand’s Muslim Society (Salam Network).

The Business and Foundation supported the creation of this mural, with site support from Wellington City Council.

“At [One NZ] we’re committed to fostering a deeply embedded culture of inclusion. One that values the full diversity of our people, our customers and the communities we serve. This mural reflects our desire as an organisation to take positive action from a devastating event, and demonstrate the kindness and generosity that sits at the core of Aotearoa. Out of tragedy must come unity.”

Antony Welton, Chair of the Te Rourou Board

About the Design

The name ‘Weaving Hope’, chosen by Iffah from VicMuslim, speaks to the vision of the artwork, and the wide range of artists and community members who helped weave together the final design.

Arches play a key role in the work, a nod to Islamic architecture, rainbows, and bridges. A strong shape, these arches are evocative of mosques, of bridging understanding, and of crossing boundaries.

The geometric features and Kufic script used in the design pay homage to traditional and modern Islamic art. They represent the love of science, geometry and the mystery of life in this culture, and feel familiar and welcoming to those of the faith.

In places the strong geometry fractures into pieces and shapes. This is symbolic of both disintegration and creation. The design is simultaneously destroyed and built from small elements, showing the dual nature and strong connection between these two forces.

Flowers feature strongly in the design. In the panel to the far right of the artwork each flower was hand carved by local Syrian furniture maker Mahmoud Shagouri, with the 51 martyrs from the tragedy in mind. The flowers come from various countries around the world, a reminder that Islam is a diverse global faith, and a faith practised in New Zealand.

There is a quote on the artwork, a feature all parties involved in the design wanted in the final work. It reads: “Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it.” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

About the Artists

Ruth Robertson-Taylor was the lead artist behind the work, but key elements have been contributed by local, national, and international contributors.

Mural Artist Ruth Robertson-Taylor discusses the mural design with members of Kilbirnie Mosque.

Ruth Robertson-Taylor (Gorse) has been actively painting public murals for nearly 10 years in the greater Wellington region. Working collaboratively with councils and communities, she shapes narratives that encapsulate the spirit of each art piece’s location. Her mural aesthetics can differ greatly from one to the next, but like all good public murals, each piece responds to the space and community they sit within. Ruth often works with different artists to co-create large collaborative artworks. Graphic designers Muhammad Waqas and Farhan Sarfraz worked with Ruth on the overall design scheme for this work.

Additionally, the Kufic script (Arabic text displayed in three boxes throughout the mural) was contributed by Muhammad Waqas, a local creative who belongs to the Kilbirnie mosque community. The Kufic script displays the words ‘peace’, ‘love’ and ‘unity’. Read more about Muhammad here.

The traditional geometric design that is repeated throughout the work was contributed by Farhan Sarfraz. Farhan is a graphic designer, a Programme Manager at One New Zealand, and part of the Salam Network.

The flower carvings portrayed on the far-right panel were created by the artist and Mahmoud Shagouri. Mahmoud is a resettled Syrian based in Porirua. In Syria he was an expert furniture maker. Ruth and Mahmoud worked on the carvings together bridging the language gap with google translate!

Surprise find elements (hidden phrases) were contributed by Asyraf ElGhazali, a visiting student from Malaysia, who we met through the consultation at the Kilbirnie mosque.

Members of the Victoria University Muslim Club during the mural workshop

A lot of amazing people contributed to the final design, and these were a few reflections and hopes for the mural from the co-creation workshops we ran.

“I hope that this mural can show others the real message of Islam, which is peace.”

“We are many races, we are diversified, but we are still one.”

“This mural is a great way to bring us back to all of those positive emotions that we had, to the goals we might have set, those resolutions we put forward… and to bring us back to each other.”

A huge thank you to everyone involved in the project. We hope the mural makes viewers think, and can play a small role in building a more unified and hopeful future for all of Aotearoa.

Mahmoud helping to carve flowers