Thriving in Murihiku — Rangatahi engagement
Thriving in Murihiku
— Rangatahi engagement
In 2021 Te Rourou — Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation engaged Toi Āria, along with Innovation Unit, to understand the hopes and aspirations of rangatahi, as part of the Foundation’s Invercargill Initiative.
The ‘Invercargill Initiative’ is a new model of community-driven, place-based investment. The kaupapa of the initiative is to foster a brighter future for the young people of Waihōpai (Invercargill), Awarua (Bluff), and the wider Murihiku (Southland) region in partnership with the local community.
Our part of the collaboration was to understand the needs of rangatahi, especially those who have experienced exclusion and disadvantage. We wanted to know where they see their future pathways, and understand their biggest challenges and to ensure that rangatahi needs and aspirations were heard in their voice.
“I think places need to get better at listening to the youth. We’re the ones that have the problems, but they tell us we’re fine. I think they need to listen.”
Our approach comprised of three phases: Whakawhanaungatanga — meeting and building rapport with key leaders and kaihautū of the communities; Pāporitanga — building shared knowledge in participation with rangatahi; Kotahitanga — building recommendations in partnership
What we found from our engagement
Themes which emerged from our conversations with rangatahi showed their desire for more than services, education and accommodation. They wanted trusted relationships, reliable supporters, cultural knowledge and connections. Their demands were strong and clear: help us strengthen our mana, recognise our needs, and understand the world through our eyes. We need more than services, education, accommodation — we want trusted relationships, reliable supporters, cultural knowledge and connections. See our potential, enable us.
The value of support provided by organisations is invaluable to rangatahi struggling with trauma, poverty, bullying and isolation or harm from addiction. Support services could be better known about, and more investment would help better meet their needs.
Access to holistic health services: rangatahi are dealing with a range of issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma and bullying, and there are challenges gaining access to relevant services. They want easy access to mental and general health services, built with them in mind.
Culturally responsive services and delivery: a number of rangatahi expressed the need for culturally responsive services, including education and language classes, and holistic health and wellbeing services. Pathways should be built to reignite cultural knowledge,services and delivery throughout Murihiku.
“It’s hard when you’ve been isolated from your Māoritanga for so long that you lose it.”
More than an education. Many rangatahi feel they don’t fit in a mainstream education environment and prefer an environment that allows them to work at their own pace and in their own time. Individual learning styles should be supported, learning pathways built, and holistic and positive relationship education provided.
A career, not just a job. Employment opportunities for rangatahi are limited in Invercargill. Employment connections and pathways should be built, and long term employment opportunities enabled.
A stable home. Many rangatahi wanted access to affordable accommodation (boarding and rentals) and were interested in pathways to home ownership. Having a home to call their own represents stability, autonomy and independence.
"I just want a healthy stable life."
Getting around. Transport plays a big part in many lives. Enabling safe and trusted transport options for rangatahi would help address barriers rangatahi encounter, such as access to warranted cars, money to sit a driving test, someone to teach them to drive, owning a car and having funds for petrol.
Living in Murihiku. Although Invercargill provides a sense of familiarity for many rangatahi, when it comes to vibrancy, things to do and future opportunities, Invercargill compares unfavourably to other cities. There are real opportunities to develop youth-based interest and pride in Murihiku.
A place for rangatahi. Provide supported safe spaces for rangatahi and affordable and engaging youth activities: rangatahi spoke often about the need for a welcoming place where they could be themselves, somewhere that was warm, had places to sit, access to food, things to do and look at, clean toilets, and is free or low custom and could possibly include counselling or health services.
Achieving better outcomes for rangatahi in Invercargill who have experienced exclusion and disadvantage may seem like an almost impossible challenge. However, this initial engagement revealed strong directions for a pathway to a more prosperous future for the rangatahi of Invercargill. Our social impact research provided a catalyst for conversation across the community. Building on our mahi, Innovation Unit set about mobilising community leaders and representatives to get involved to co-create a vision for a thriving future. Read about their work here.