Mental health advocate Ezekiel Raui is continuing to make an impact in New Zealand communities by helping rangatahi realise their potential.
Over the weekend he was invited to present an inspirational kōrero to 60 Māori and Pacific tauira at a Youthline Coca-Cola Good2Great personal development workshop.
“It’s been awesome that the rangatahi have really engaged with that and they've been able to take away key points to help them grow as young leaders,” he says.
It comes after the 21-year-old from the Hokianga and of Te Rarawa descent received a Queen’s Young Leaders Award last year at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his work around encouraging young Māori to talk more openly about mental health issues.
During his kōrero over the weekend, he hoped to pass on his knowledge and experience to the tauira, many of whom had come from very humble beginnings.
“It’s awesome being able to share the message and help them understand that no matter who they are, no matter where they come from, they're capable of achieving what they want to.”
Ezekiel Raui with tauira at the workshop. Source: Youthline
Challenges facing rangatahi
During the kōrero, the students talked about the biggest challenges facing rangatahi.
“They were saying that one of the biggest things that young people feel are the barriers to their success is the lack of their voice in decision-making for young people in New Zealand," says Raui.
“I took that on, I guess as a challenge for myself and my whānaunga and colleagues, that while we’re doing the work we do it’s also important to ensure that our community of young people feel like they’re being heard.”
This year his government-funded million-dollar Tū Kotahi pilot programme, which focuses on building youth resilience, is set to be implemented in schools.
Raui started the programme after losing five of his friends to suicide.
“I think they’d be proud of where we are today and it is as a result of the hardship that we all went through," he says.
“So, it is that ability to really push forward, and they gave us the motivation for us to do that and without the motivation and without the peers around me, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have today.”
If you or anyone you know is affected by suicide and needs help you can contact LifeLine on 0800 543 535 or the Suicide Crisis 0508 TAUTOKO.