Haven created for youth
Kaikohe youth have a safe place to go with the opening of a space just for them.
Te Uma o Te Kona Kaikohe, named after Te Kona, the mother of Ngapuhi leader Hone Heke, references her motherly nature providing safety and shelter - the aim of the new project.
Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust chairperson Aroha Tahere, whose Kaikohe community organisation will run the youth space, says there has been a priority to have a safe place for youth to go.
Tahere says the work ramped up in May, when then trust chairperson Ben Dalton, and senior public servant was asked in Wellington: ‘‘What’s going on in Kaikohe?’’
The question came after a series of high-profile youth crimes, including a dozen youths stealing 10 boxes of beer from a Kaikohe liquor store in March. The same night around 20 youths were captured on CCTV trying to break into the Mobil service station.
At the time Dalton said one of the best things that could be done would be to establish a youth centre in the town.
‘‘It takes a village, and these groups as a wider community have come together to form a local solution,’’ Tahere says.
Dallon August says they want to build a relationship with the youngsters. ‘‘It’s about finding ways we can relate to them and making them feel comfortable.’’
Dena-Maree Hemara says she is hoping to engage youth with their whakapapa and pepeha to give them a sense of belonging. ’’We can build a foundation, where they can come and chill and get them off the streets.’’
Sponsors have provided Chromebooks, table tennis and pool tables, bean bags and much more.
The youth space is funded for 12 months by a group of organisations including Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust, Kaikohe Community and Youth Centre Trust, the Ngapuhi Asset Holding Company, Kainga Ora and the Government’s Regional Growth Programme.
Te Uma o Te Kona Kaikohe was officially opened with a blessing on August 14, with the first youth gathering on August 24. It will be open every day after school from 3.30pm.
❚ Te Uma o Te Kona Kaikohe, 135 Broadway, opening night with free kai August 24 from 3.30pm.
Dena-Maree Hemara and Dallon August who will work with youth in Kaikohe.