Between Tīhema 2022 and Hanuere 2023, we called for expressions of interest across our platforms for 50 rangatahi, to participate in Te Rōpū Rangatahi. The aim is for rangatahi to share their whakaaro, experiences and aspirations for the future of our iwi through a series of four wānanga, to be held at marae across the rohe. The purpose of Te Rōpū Rangatahi is also to provide advice to Te Nehenehenui Trustees where relevant, in the form of an advisory group. 

On Friday 7th July, rangatahi aged 18-35 joined us at Mangatoatoa Pā, to connect, learn and share their aspirations.  

Our first facilitator, Niketi Toataua (Ngāti Paretekawa) shared mātauranga about traditional weaponry, “the true value of Mangumangu Taepo” (the double weapon) for our iwi and the agility, wisdom and strength our tūpuna possessed. Through a series of interactive games our rangatahi also learnt the importance of leadership and working together. 

Te Makau Poutokonuiarangi (Ngāti Unu, Ngati Kahu), shared unique mātauranga, encouraging our rangatahi to envision what the future Maniapoto dynasty could look like, the important role wahine held throughout our history, and notably, the importance of applying activities such as learning your whakapapa, reciting karakia and waiata, and giving back to your marae to activate your Maniapototanga.   

After much discussion the rōpū were then transported to Te Iakau, the site where the Te Ara o Tūrongo Ceremony was held in April this year, to view and envision the impact that the Main Trunk Railway Line had on Te Mana Motuhake o Ngāti Maniapoto. 

“Te Mana Motuhake o Ngāti Maniapoto arose directly from the relationships of our tūpuna to each other and their interwoven relationships into the whenua, ara wai, and ngāhere. It is through these relationships that Ngāti Maniapoto would arise as a self-governing and self-subsisting dynasty” – Te Makau 

Aroha Wehi-King and Tiahuia Wehi (Ngāti Rōrā), taught our rōpū waiata-a-ringa, connecting our rangatahi to the aspirations, unique history and key locations of our tribe. It was a delight to see how proud our members were to deliver, recite and sing the stories of our ancestors.  

“I’ve never felt more of a sense of belonging after a short space of time. I’ll be honest, a few days before I was so nervous and I was seriously considering pulling out because I didn’t think I was going to add any value…I’m so glad that I did go because I’ve never felt so connected after 3 days before. Connected to myself, to the others on the noho and to my Māoritanga and Maniapototanga! I didn’t want to go home at the end of it. Honestly the best!” – Nadine Uerata 

“He miharo te wānanga! The whole wānanga was so well organised and was as expected with the activities, I really enjoyed connecting with whanaunga and being immersed in Māoritanga” – Quita Hapimarika-Ahu 

“He oranga ngākau, he pikinga waiora te whakawhanaunga tahi ki tōku iwi i raru i te tāwharautanga o Te Nehenehenui. Inā te reka kia whai i ngā tapuwae a ō tātou tīpuna nā rātou i tohu. Kua toutou te ahikāroa i taku hokinga atu ki tōku ūkaipo, kia hiwa ai tōku Maniapototanga” – Ciccone Hakaraia-Turner 

“This weekend was special. Being in the presence of numerous rangatahi working in diverse industries was truly rawe. It was cool to share the space together, each of us with our own unique experiences, mātauranga and perspectives. It exemplified the strength and unity within our rōpū. These two wānanga sessions were a particular highlight for me. The mau rākau wānanga with Matua Niketi and the session exploring how we could activate our Maniapototanga with Matua Te Ruki were equally inspiring. Discovering how to tap into our own potential, was pretty empowering and helped to initiate some thinking of how we could all contribute to the growth and prosperity of our iwi. Overall, this weekend was uplifting, and the future looks bright for us all! Mauri Ora.” – Te Aroha Anderson 

We’d like to acknowledge the whānau of Mangatoatoa, our facilitators, our caterers, and Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato for the koha of two vans, Number Twelve and Three Way Motors who supported our wānanga over the weekend.  

Thank you again to all our rangatahi who travelled from around the motu and in particular, to those who travelled from Australia to attend our first wānanga. We look forward to the positive contribution you will all bring to our iwi – TIHEI! MAURI ORA!