Te Wananga gives youths a chance
Luani Tiitii says his life is on the right track after a year studying at Wananga o Aotearoa.
The 16- year- old said he had been ‘‘in a bit of trouble’’ prior to enrolling but had gained valuable employment skills at the Porirua campus.
He is off to Brisbane soon to seek a job in the hospitality industry, hopefully as a chef or a teacher.
‘‘I’ve learnt so much, especially about how to communicate. I’m grateful to the tutors here for teaching me the right things and making it worthwhile.
‘‘It’s set me up and made me really confident for my future,’’ he said.
Wayne Poutoa says Te Wananga o Aotearoa has been a well-kept secret for too long.
The founder of youth programme Streets Ahead 237 and a former Porirua City councillor has not let the grass grow under his feet since he stepped away from those two roles.
He now runs the fees- free, hands- on Youth Guarantee scheme, funded by the Government, at the Wananga. ‘‘There are so many good things happening up here and the young people in our community are taking advantage of the good courses available to them,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s like what we were doing with Streets, but on a much bigger scale and it’s really exciting. We’re buzzing.’’
More than 120 students have access to computer, retail, visual arts, performing arts, employment and tourism courses, among others.
Arts tutor Jillian Butler has been tutoring for five years at the Wananga.
She said watching students ‘‘spreading their wings’’ was very rewarding.
The Wananga courses were a vessel to learn more about yourself and transform your life, she said.
‘‘It’s about the passion and seeing positive changes happen,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s about the people standing next to you, in front of you and behind you. Guys like Luani had a colourful upbringing and seeing them go on to do what they want is great.’’
Mr Poutoa said the calibre of tutors and resources available to young people through the Wananga was exceptional.
‘‘ You look at some of the teachers involved in the visual and performing arts. Wow!
‘‘The Wananga might not have all the attention of other institutions – it’s a well- kept secret.
‘‘It’s time that secret was out,’’ he said.
Mr Poutoa said his new role gave him the flexibility to concentrate on his family. He started as a teacher, but is enjoying being a manager.
The interaction with young people and their families, remained, however.
‘‘The faces might change, but what you’re trying to achieve doesn’t.
‘‘It’s part and parcel of what I love doing and I’ll always have my roots in Porirua.’’
Confidence booster: Luani Tiitii said what he had learnt at Te Wananga o Aotearoa had set him up for a bright future.