Passing the Rākau to Rangatahi – A Fund for and by Māori Youth

Poipoia te kākano kia puawai

Nurture the seed and it will blossom

How could we possibly know what’s best for rangatahi Māori? How do we know where best to invest toward the future aspirations or our Māori youth? What do they want? Need? Well, it turns out the answer is easy – let rangatahi Māori decide what’s best for rangatahi Māori.

Over the past couple of months, Te Rourou’s community catalysts have been working alongside Murihiku rangatahi to develop the Te Ōhanga Tīwhera fund – a collaborative fund that is designed with, by, and for rangatahi Māori throughout the rohe.

The fund came as Te Rourou’s response to overwhelming feedback from rangatahi Māori in Murihiku who said they needed to be heard, to be better connected to their culture, and to be valued in society. So, the Foundation allocated $200,000 to the fund, and were joined by funding partners the ILT Foundation, The Clare Foundation, and Community Trust South who added a combined $75,000 to the pot.

The money was ready – the next step was for the rangatahi to decide what to do with it.

Each of the eight young participants were chosen by their respective Murihiku papatipu Rūnanga; Te Rūnaka o Awarua, Te Rūnaka o Waihopai, Oraka-Aparima Rūnaka and Hokonui Rūnanga. From there, with the help of the community catalysts, the rangatahi were upskilled in lessons of governance, from conflicts of interest to applications, and right down to the nitty-gritty of the funding process.

What started as a group of eight young (perhaps a little apprehensive) strangers, quickly blossomed into a collaboration of unique and ambitious minds, eager to have their voices heard. They all quickly learned how closely their values aligned, and from there the structure of Te Ōhanga Tīwhera fund came to life.

A connection to culture, a platform to elevate young voices, and a sense of belonging in the community were just some of the general themes that came from their lively korero. These young people took the fund and carefully crafted it into an opportunity to best impact and support their fellow rangatahi.

They collectively decided the best way to make use of the fund was to divide it into three pools of funding. To apply, there is a short form and then an opportunity to present to the panel later in October. You can find out more about the funds available here. 

We already know that young people have a unique understanding of their own communities, their own challenges, and what it will take to enhance their own wellbeing. By making sure they have a seat at the table and a voice for their own futures, we can assist the next generation into success.