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Tamaki young people learn cultural, religious ropes

A mix of fun, discipline, and education is formula Te Taha Maori uses in its work with young people. Keita Hotere is employed as the national rangatahi worker for Te Taha Maori and her twin sister Marama Hotere, a primary school teacher, is the rangatahi co-ordinator for the Tamaki rohe.

Keita says Taha Maori youth leaders try to pass onto young people the values and practices of both the Maori culture and Te Hahi Weteriana.

“A lot of the young people who are involved with the Church come from families that are steeped in Maori Methodist history. Some go to the mainstream schools and some go to Kura Kaupapa Maori so they have varying amounts of exposure to Maori culture our history and our traditions.

“We try to strike a balance between activities and teaching the values of Te Taha Maori. When we stay at Whakatuora we teach the rangatahi to work together as a community,” Keita says. Wananga (learning situations) at Whakatuora give young people the chance to take part in fun activities but also learn the dynamics of living marae style. At Whakatuora there will be some discussions based on our activities and as part of the wananga the young people learn to work together in the kitchen, lead karakia together, and share in cultural activities.

Tamaki rohe youth leaders have taken young people from Tamaki rohe to visit the Church offices in Penrose to give them a sense of identity as being Weteriana and also to expose them to the work of the wider church. “We also encourage our young people to be politically active and to discover for themselves what this means. For instance taking rangatahi to Ratana, Waitangi and Koroneihana celebrations,” Keita says.

Whakatuora is one of the venues used for national rangatahi hui. Keita says national hui are important for young people because they learn to work with other Methodist youth beyond their own district or iwi. “We also encourage our young people to attend Hui Poari as youth reps. There they can see what goes on in the life of Te Taha Maori”.