Teen inspired by workshop

STAR: Sonny McLean
STAR: Sonny McLean

Hato Paora College student Sonny McLean didn't see the point of sitting around in the school holidays so instead he went up to Auckland to a business workshop and came back a winner.

Te Wero Pakihi (The Business Challenge) is a five-day workshop organised by the Maori Women's Development Inc. Throughout the country, 45 students took part. Sixteen-year-old Sonny was part of the winning team judged over the course of the workshop and was awarded an iPad for his efforts. Sonny says his team had to complete challenges including creating and filming a viral advertisement for the Coffee Club.

"We went through the whole process and we worked together really well. It was exciting to win, we thought ours was pretty good, we went with the whole social media thing."

The workshop was aimed at young Maori students, inspiring them to think big and pursue a career in business. Sonny says he is not sure exactly what he will do when he leaves school, maybe the navy or university, but he found the five days inspiring.

"The best thing for me was getting to meet lots of people. We were put into groups as soon as we arrived and my group got on really well. We helped each other."

Sonny boards at Hato Paora College and said getting to meet people out of school was great. Part of the final challenge took the students out of their comfort zone and into central Auckland to survey people to find out information for their advertisement.

"At the start we didn't really want to ask people, but then we just did it and spoke to about 50 people, we wanted to win."

Sonny said another thing he learnt was about leadership and he now knew that he could step up to be a leader. Accompanying the students was Marg Haimona, who says Sonny also showed great teamwork when he stepped aside to let someone else be his group's leader. Sonny would like to return next year as a student mentor.

The students all stayed at the Awataha Marae and had early starts and late finishes, with various mentors speaking to them throughout the workshop, including one of the founding directors of the Coffee Club franchise.

"It was good hearing about his background. He left school when he was 16, he must have worked really hard to make it."

Sonny has taken something away with him from the workshop. A naturally motivated teenager before, now he has some new skills to back that up - something that may help at the kapa haka national competition. Sonny is a member of Hato Paora College's kapa haka group and they, too, have headed north to Gisborne and hope to take a leaf out of Sonny's book by returning as winners.

Manawatu Standard