Year 12 student Coco Lance reports:
‘Last week I was lucky enough to attend Te Ara Moana, an Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit organised by Madave, and hosted at Orakei Marae. Myself, Oscar Allen (Y13), Gabrielle Jack (Y13), Tre Howell (Y12), Icis Graham (Y12) and Destiny Norman Lavea (Y10), found it an invaluable experience.
The Summit’s theme was to “Be the Change you want to see in the World”, a challenging and thought provoking idea. The two day programme included guest speakers, workshops, tree planting, story tellers, Pasifika and Maori entertainment and the chance to meet students from other High Schools and Universities.
There were many highlights, amongst them Waimirirangi Koopu-Stone and Tamoko Ormsby, two young Maori students who recently travelled to New York to participate in an Indigenous Conference hosted by the United Nations. They discussed the importance of being brave and of “smashing” the boundaries as young indigenous leaders if we want to make a difference. We took part in interactive workshops, with some of the focuses including: how to create sustainable coastlines, re-affirming identity, channelling truth through spoken word poetry, reconnecting with our bodies through indigenous movement, and using weaving as a metaphor for living our best life.
We listened to Keynote Speaker Herewini Jones, a world renowned cultural expert who shared his knowledge and wisdom from around the globe, and whose main messages were that “decisions would determine our destiny”, and that as the leaders of tomorrow we should strive to “choose the right path, then act”. This made a real Impact. His work and experience with indigenous peoples around the world was inspirational. One of my personal highlights was the Whenua Ki Te Whenua project - the tree planting service project. This saw us in Glen Innes, planting trees around the Omaru River. It was gratifying to feel like we were making a difference, planting ‘seeds of change’, and giving back to the whenua, the land.
The finale of our Summit involved presenting the knowledge gained from the workshops to MP Jenny Salesa, who we had the privilege of conversing with afterwards. She informed us that a large portion of her family attended and flourished whilst students at our very own Selwyn College!
Overall, the experience of being involved in Te Ara Moana Summit was brilliant. Not only did we make new friends, but the experience helped us to understand our responsibilities as young indigenous leaders, to embrace the challenges of leadership and create positive opportunities for both ourselves and our fellow indigenous peoples. I would like to acknowledge Whaea Whi, teacher of Te Reo Maori, for making this possible - thank you for getting us involved in this awesome two day Summit.