Old wisdom aids youth
Empowering young girls to become positive, strong role models is the driving force behind a new youth group in Huntly.
Kaitiaki Nokinoki, or little guardians, is made up of girls between the ages of 3 and 13.
Using a 150- year old Maori strategy, the model is aimed at providing young girls with an opportunity to reach their full potential in a positive environment.
Huntly dad and respected community man Brad Totorewa decided to use the Maori model as a platform to fight back against negative statistics and to give families a tool to use to better their children’s lives.
‘‘The group stems from a desire
to improve and provide opportunity for young Maori girls and young Maori boys,’’ Totorewa said.
‘‘It’s a strategy to provide another opportunity to grow our kids in a more positive space,’’ he said.
‘‘Some of the key negative drivers that have helped us put this together were poverty, the high crime rate around Huntly, issues around the youth, partying, alcohol, drugs, all that kind of stuff. We need to try and change things.’’
After attending a peace forum in South Korea this year, Totorewa and his family were motivated to start up a Marei Kura at which the Kaitiaki Nokinoki will be taught. It will focus on using Maori tikanga, kaupapa and practices. Totorewa and his team plan to launch the school in March next year as well as a group for young boys.
‘‘The strategy behind Marei Kura and Kaitiaki Nokinoki is about returning to the womb and re teaching our girls and boys the values of life, building and strengthening their character, enhancing their individual potential and individual characteristics. It’s not about removing responsibilities from mums and dads but it’s about providing another option of enhancing teaching in families,’’ said Totorewa.
Marei Kura will operate as a charitable trust, which will work with iwi around the country.
‘‘What we envision is that community around Waikato can opt to run a Marei Kura club at their marae. They would have to register – we give them the curriculum and subjects and they can contextualise it to their environment. We envision that this will go all around New Zealand.’’
Kaitiaki Nokinoki is the first part of that process with around 20 girls, who have been working on community projects since August.
Teaching the principle of giving, the group recently baked, decorated and packaged sweet treats for kaumatua.
‘‘We believe in the inter generational transmission of knowledge. The one thing that brings us together is sport and kapa haka. There’s no other strategy or project out there that unites Maori.
‘‘We’re not saying that this is an exclusively Maori project because anyone can come and join. It’s just driven by Maori kaupapa,’’ said Totorewa.
EMPOWERING: Kiritokia Turner and Brad Totorewa are teaching girls in Kaitiaki Nokinoki, Ngahuia Eketone, 12, Taurewa Totorewa, 6, Nga Mako Totorewa, 11 and Merepaea Eketone, 9, to become positive role models.