Rangatahi use their voice to make a difference

By Regan Paranihi

Rangatahi Māori from across the country have gathered in Wainuiomata this weekend to discuss how to combat some of the major issues facing Māori.

They say there is too much talk and not enough action, and they believe the answer lies within the young voice.

Cale Borrell (Tauranga Moana) says, "For us to make our voice heard, would be to just keep doing what we're doing here."

Organiser Te Puawai o te Atua Waller (Ngāti Ruanui, Te Whakatōhea) says their wānanga is a promising start, "I think this is a seed, I think this is a planting of a seed and there's growth."

The group says the rangatahi voice is missing from key discussions about their future.

"Our leaders aren't looking to rangatahi for the answers," says Borrell. 

"I think just solutions for our people - just tangible change - because 685 suicides in the last year, a large proportion [were] Māori. Over 50% of Māori experienced mental distress in their lifetime and that shouldn't be the stat when we're only 12.5% of our population," adds Waller.

The rangatahi summit is the first step in these young leaders coming together to create positive change.

"The important thing is having the same vision for the future to create tangible change, where we actually see it affecting positively on our people," says Waller.

As the saying goes, 'youth are the leaders of tomorrow' but these rangatahi say tomorrow has come.

"Rangatahi are the rangatira today because our future lies in the decisions made today, and if we can't be at those decision-making levels then how does our future look?" says Borrell.

The young leaders have a challenge for all the decision-makers in Aotearoa.

Borrell says, "Bring youth to the table and come into wānanga with us, discuss some solutions."

"It's our time to do our part and what better way [than] in a solutions-way, kia waiho i te hara mo te āpōpō te take, mo to ratau reanga te take," adds Waller.

The group hope to carry out more wānanga like this throughout the country to strengthen the rangatahi voice.