Parihaka-Waves programme praised

Programme director Lani Hunt
Programme director Lani Hunt

A combined Parihaka marae and Waves project designed to help at-risk Taranaki young people is attracting trans-Tasman praise.

The programme known as Parihaka Wananga has been running in Taranaki for two years and has resulted in about 160 young people visiting the marae to learn life skills and values to help them contribute to society.

Programme directors Lani Hunt, Paora Joseph and Parihaka kuia Maata Wharehoka were flown to Canberra last month to speak at a conference on indigenous education.

"The Ministry of Justice sent us there and our programme was so well received. Australia doesn't have anything like it, so now they are looking at developing something similar," Mr Hunt said.

The 30-year-old youth worker believed the Parihaka Wananga had done a lot for the "street kids" of Taranaki.

The latest group, which included members of New Plymouth's "squeegee bandits", returned on Sunday after spending five days at the marae.

"The kids were really amazing. There is no technology out there, no Facebook, no shops. On the first day they just want to go home, because no one has ever made them pick up a broom before, but by the final day, they are like changed kids."

Hannah Herbet, 18, first became involved in Parihaka Wananga 12 months ago. "It has taught me so much. I used to have a drinking problem and now I'm a volunteer at Waves and I want to be a youth social worker," Miss Herbet said.

"This programme has done so much for young kids."

The trip to Parihaka marae happens six times a year and this time involved a visit from the Waves board of directors.

"The kids had spent time learning how to cook, clean and wait tables, so when the board came out they were blown away by the difference in these kids," Mr Hunt said.

"All of a sudden they could see that these kids really could be in the workforce. They were shocked by the difference."

Taryn Utiger is a Witt journalism student

Taranaki Daily News