Gina* was quiet and reclusive when she moved to Auckland, preferring to keep to herself and avoiding too much contact with others. Then she joined the Pae Aronui programme at Visionwest Waka Whakakitenga. Awhina, one of the Pae Aronui Kaiarahi Rangatahi (youth tutor) saw Gina’s potential and took an interest in her. Gina gradually began to gain confidence. So much so that, when a friend of Awhina’s said he needed help in his café, Awhina recommended Gina. At first Gina was nervous about going out and working somewhere too public but soon grew to love it and has now been offered a fulltime position – this is part of the work of the Pae Aronui programme.
The Pae Aronui Programme
Pae Aronui is a rangatahi Māori (Māori youth) engagement programme aimed at improving education, training, and employment outcomes for rangatahi Māori aged 15 to 24 years who are not in education, employment, or training. While Visionwest’s contract is for 30 rangatahi, there are currently 34 enrolled in the programme with 30 of these in employment or education and training programmes aimed to help them find work.
The Māori Learner Project
Another programme currently running through out Huia Mai Service is the Māori Learner Project. Under this programme, the Ministry of Education has contracted Visionwest to help 220 children who need help with their schooling because their whānau are struggling with the effects of Covid. In almost every case, the whānau are experiencing financial challenges because of lost jobs or lowered incomes over the Covid lockdown periods. For some, the challenge has been paying for uniforms so tamariki can attend school. For others, the challenge is to pay for a device to enable their child to take part in class. Awhina tells the story of one whānau.
I was able to help one whānau who had two children but only one school uniform and one pair of school shoes. The tamariki would take turns going to school. We were able to help them by buying an extra uniform and shoes. The Māori Learner Project has helped us support so many whānau. While the needs may vary from one whānau to the next, the one thing common to all is that they have struggled financially because of Covid. For some it’s been some resource they needed so their tamariki could go to school. For others it was transport costs to get to school and for some it was a need for counselling to overcome some trauma associated with Covid. And, for some it was as simple as paying their power bills.
While contracted for just 220 tamariki, so far, 232 have been part of the Māori Learner Project at Visionwest. Pae Aronui and the Māori Learner Project are parts of Visionwest’s Huia Mai which provides a variety of Māori-based whānau services. Click here to find out more. *Not her real name.