Maori politicians are still singing the praises of Kerikeri's Ki-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho, three years after the youth leadership group won a national Maori sports award for best community initiative.
The Health Ministry has continued a national education programme which is credited to the lead of Kerikeri students.
Despite the ongoing friction between the Hone Harawira-led Mana Party and the Maori Party, both are united in their praise of the Kerikeri youth initiative which has produced jobs.
"Voluntary mentoring initiatives around the ki-o-rahi kaupapa should be acknowledged and supported as pathways to employment, especially with the installation of permanent carved fields which can be utilised for cultural sports tourism," Mr Harawira said.
A young person employed by Sport Waitakere as a ki-o-rahi instructor hails from Kaitaia.
"Hohua Clark learned the game and its educative propositions from experts in our region and now he has a well paid job. The possibilities with this kaupapa are endless and the teaching encompasses all curriculum subjects in mainstream and kura kaupapa. It is a unifying force."
It was under the direction of Tariana Turia that the Health Ministry commissioned the Rangatahi Tu Rangatira programme which was fast-tracked nationwide in 2009 and has recently been extended until 2013.
Ki-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho founder Harko Brown says the passion and commitment of the kids, numbering more than 40 at one stage, inspired him to create opportunities for them on the national and international stage.
"It was done to develop an interest which the kids loved – their hard work has contributed to changing the face of physical education in New Zealand and has lead to more than fifty people so far in this country, the United States and Europe being employed as full or part time ki-o-rahi instructors – the kids should feel proud of their legacy."
Mr Brown developed the cultural leadership initiative around the traditional Maori game ki-o-rahi after introducing the game through his teaching. The game was an instant hit with students.
The group linked in with other ki-o-rahi innovators around the country and the kaupapa took off. Its girls and boys teams won New Zealand ki-o-rahi national titles.
Under the tutelage of Judy and Hori Kaa, they were invited to perform 10 concerts in Italy and they gave of their time to mentor students in 12 schools around New Zealand.
"In the media our kids were the face of ki-o-rahi," Mr Brown says.
According to statistics from the Waitangi National Trust more than 50,000 students around the country now enjoy ki-o-rahi.
The idea of the programme, which kicked off in Kerikeri, was to share cultures in a melting pot and to upskill kids in aspects of Maoritanga. The Kerikeri group was generally equally split between Maori and Pakeha and gender.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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