Those focused on empowering their iwi in the regions very rarely gain national recognition. Te Ao caught up with one of those ringa raupā in Te Tairāwhiti, Shanan Gray.
Gray is working towards the betterment of his people and the community at the Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti Centre of Excellence Trust, in the remote rural town of Uawa on the East Coast.
“It's just like how we work at a marae, we've all got our roles, we've all got our responsibilities but on a bigger scale it's about just bringing them together and just making sure that they have opportunities in front of them,” says Gray.
The Te Aitanga a Hauiti Centre of Excellence Trust is an iwi and community-based organisation in Uawa, which has a population of around 800.
“It's an opportunity to create a community plan for our community here and I've come in out of teaching to hopefully bring back the community it's all about ... connecting with their voice."
Gray is behind the Community-Led Development Programme (CLDP) partnering agreement between the Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti Centre of Excellence Trust and the Department of Internal Affairs.
"This is where opportunities will be created, whether it's job-wise, whether it's community events. Some other stuff from the community plan is community safety and just making sure that there are opportunities for our young ones to be off the street.”
Gray says it's about inclusion and places emphasis on the relationship between elders and youth.
“One thing that they really want to do is bring that closer together and I think that's a great opportunity for our pakeke to share what they know because they’re only here for a short amount of time and their wealth of knowledge is something that we have to look at.”
Gray will present a five-year community plan to the community by the end of August.