Ngāi Tahu to equip young people to make ‘stuff happen’

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A Ngāi Tahu organisation is hiring 10 young people to train up as future leaders and problem solvers.

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Tokona Te Raki, a social innovation centre in Christchurch, is setting up the Māori Futures Academy in partnership with the University of Canterbury.

The executive director of Tokona Te Raki, Eruera Tarena, said the internships are a way to grow the next generation of leaders who can create next generation solutions.

“Our youth – they want to change the world,” Tarena said. “They’re motivated but the question is how do we create a space where they can turn their purpose into their profession, earn a living by it and they are also equipped with the discipline and structure around strategy, around tools and around process to lead change.”

Tarena said the roles are for 12 months and participants will be paid a living wage.

He said these young people will be trained to be change-makers.

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“We don’t see equitable outcomes for Māori across health, education and justice. We all acknowledge that things aren’t working the way they should be for our people.

“We want systems change but don’t really train people in how to achieve that. So when you think about things like treaty partnership it is always an aspirational principle, and kind of lacks that Number 8 wire process and the culture of making stuff happen.

“And really that’s what we are trying to blend together. How do we create an environment where our young people can be exposed to leading thinking as well as learn by doing.”

He said the young people will be working on their own projects, and assisting with existing projects for Tokona Te Raki.

Tarena said some of the research projects they’ll be involved in include looking at the future of work and Māori education as well as being trained in big data research and whānau interviewing.

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Applications for this year closed on Friday, and they hope to have people appointed by mid-April.

He said they are part of the Ngāi Tahu iwi so will have a strong Ngāi Tahu flavour and focus, but they are interested in people from all iwi. They wanted people with diverse backgrounds to apply and were looking for people with a real passion and purpose, not set experience or qualifications.

Tarena said the project is in part inspired by the Foundation for Young Australians’ YLab which has a youth consultancy. The YLab specialises in co-design and systems thinking and employs around 100 young people.

“Who better to be designing the future and supporting us to be future fit than our young people who are most in tune with that space.”

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