Thriving in Murihiku

Lani Evans, Head of Te Rourou, gives a rundown of insights gained from listening to rangatahi in Invercargill  

Making a meaningful and lasting impact in a community doesn’t start with big ideas, it starts with open ears. That’s why, over the past few months, listening to the voices of rangatahi in Invercargill has been a focus for Te Rourou, Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation.  

The Foundation has a vision of a future where all young people have access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive, a future where all young people can make choices and lead lives they value. The hard work of changing outcomes is starting in Invercargill.  

The reality is 29% of young people in Invercargill experience exclusion and disadvantage, much higher than the national average of 23%. We want to help to change this.  

Understanding the true needs of rangatahi, their aspirations, goals and challenges has been our first priority, and the team is so excited to have completed the research phase and share our Thriving in Murihiku report, which we encourage you to read.

Thriving in Murihiku Report – 2021

The research, created in partnership with Toi Āria, and the support of Innovation Unit and Curative, has involved Whakawhanaungatanga (building relationships with key leaders and communities), Pāporitanga (building shared knowledge in participation with rangatahi), and Kotahitanga (building recommendations in partnerships).  

The word ‘research’ often sounds like something that happens in a lab, but this was all about  personal connection – with a mix of one-on-one interviews and small focus groups, speaking to male, female and transgender rangatahi, from a vast range of ethnic backgrounds. We really appreciate the time everyone took to share their personal stories and help our teams from Vodafone and the Foundation understand what youth in Murihiku really need. 

What we have heard is clear; it’s not just about services, education and accommodation – our rangatahi also want help to strengthen their mana, to have trusted relationships, reliable supports, and increased connection to whakapapa.  

“See our potential, enable us,” one young person says in the report. “This is how we start the shift from surviving to flourishing.” 

The full report sheds light on many of the challenges our youth are facing, how it feels to live in their shoes, and the things that would make a real difference to their lives.  

So where to from here?  

Reading these findings and the voices of lived experiences can be overwhelming at first, revealing a whole host of issues around things like discrimination, education, social support, mental health, self-belief, relationships, and employment, but this research is incredibly powerful. It has created stronger sense of direction and purpose, as well as giving rangatahi a voice and sense of empowerment too. When life is tough and you’re in the thick of it, one of the most uplifting and empowering things is to be supported and listened to. Feeling seen and heard is a gift.  

Thanks to this research, the pathway forward for the Foundation’s work is much clearer, and you can find more detail on all the opportunities in the report.  

“The ultimate component of any strategy for success is to make rangatahi the leader in designing their own future. Keep their voices alive in any future mahi in Invercargill. Make a place for them at the table when formulating ideas and solutions. Involve them at the beginning of the process and honour their role in creating the success they all want for themselves,” said Lani Evans, Head of the Foundation. 

Before, we had a destination. Now, with their voices, we have a compass too. Helping create long-lasting change is where we’re heading.