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    Tuia helps develop leaders for tomorrow’s Rārua

    Working for the iwi can be full of surprises – just ask Aimee Sandrey.

    The Wairau resident started working for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua as a Pou-a-iwi in late 2023, and shortly after was selected to represent Wairau in the Tuia programme, a year-long leadership mentoring scheme that pairs local mayors with rangatahi Māori.

    That was a surprise - and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind journey since, she says.

    “It’s all been pretty out of it. It’s a scary big commitment.”

    A lot of the other Tuia participants were working in the taiao space, in kura kaupapa Māori and in hauora. While there were only two others who worked for iwi or their marae, about half of the participants could kōrero Māori fluently, Aimee said. 

    “It was quite intimidating to start off with. But it was such a privilege to be within that space. Just the wairua of the wānanga, the knowledge, the people, the kōrero you get to listen to, it’s amazing. And the opportunities after the programme are even better.”

    Previously Aimee worked at Kotahi Te Hoe Charitable Trust as an administrator, then moved to the Rūnanga as a Pou-a-iwi.

    "We look after the Pou Mauri Ora and Pou Hononga, so the cultural and social aspects of our whānau aspirations and moemoea, then to tautoko them and help the succession of Ngāti Rārua as an iwi.”

    “Before I was quite shy, and reserved – it took a bit to be out there. 

    “Helping people reach their goals and their dreams and learning about who they are and where they come from … because I'm on that journey myself, it's such an awesome thing to be able to experience and be a part of.”

    “We’re just continuously supplying and supporting our whānau with opportunities to continue to be immersed within their Rāruatanga.”

    Alongside her day-to-day mahi, the Tuia programme will give Aimee insight into the work of the Mayor and the Marlborough District Council. As well as attending events like citizenship ceremonies and the Anzac Day commemorations, there is a keen focus on helping rangatahi.

    “We talk about things in the community for our rangatahi that are working, things that aren't working and what we can do to bridge that gap. And more opportunities for our rangatahi to feel like they have a space here within the Wairau.”

    The Tuia programme is designed to be a two-way street – while Mayors do the mentoring, the you people help the Mayors understand what life is like for young people in the district.

    “Just being able to have that different perspective, and those different opinions and thoughts of what it's like to be a rangatahi Māori, living in today’s society in Te Tauihu. It will be very valuable for her work.”

    Wānanga help her 'be brave enough'

    All participants in the Tuia programme meet for kaupapa based wānanga at different marae around the motu, Aimee says.

    “It follows the whakatauki

    Tuia i runga, Tuia raro
    Tuia i waho, Tuia i roto
    Tuia ki te here tangata

     “So every wānanga embodies one of those tauparapara.”

    “It's about providing that succession plan. There's something there before you and there's going to be something there after you.”

    The first wānanga finished recently and Aimee says it was all about whānaungatanga. 

    “We were learning about each other through whakapapa, through our mahi, through what drives us and our aspirations.

    “We got to go to wāhi tapu sites of Maniapoto, which was amazing. Every time we went to a wāhi tapu site we had rangatahi who were in our rōpu who would do our karanga and our whaikorero for us as we walked on to those sites.

    “We got to listen to the history of Te Ana Uriuri which is a limestone cave that Maniapoto used to go to. And then we went to Te Puna o Roimata as well which was super cool - listening to mana whenua talk about their history there and what happened.”

    If that door’s open for you, make sure you go through it.

    Longer-term, Aimee said the wānanga will help her grow even more.

    “I think the wānanga give me the opportunity to be brave enough, I guess. I think it will give me a lot more self-confidence and give me a lot more courage to be brave.

    While she says the experience can be ‘terrifying’ Aimee recommends young people grab any opportunities like Tuia that present themselves.

    “I know that it can be terrifying and it's scary, especially when you're not immersed within that wānanga life. But yeah, be open minded. Make sure you give yourself as much opportunity as possible. If that door’s open for you, make sure you go through it.”

    About the Tuia programme

    Tuia is nurturing a new generation of leaders, empowering them to embrace their Māoritanga and shape a better future for their communities.

    Read more about the Tuia programme

    Richard Liddicoat

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    Tuia helps develop leaders for tomorrow’s Rārua