Aroha has been involved with NRT since 2012 as a mentor for Manawa Ora. For the actress and playwright, the best parts of working with NRT include: watching mentors try to do yoga in jeans; cracking up and then crying; creating and working as whanau; and seeing rangatahi feel the fear then smash it out of the park. “Teenagers are the boss humans and making theatre with them speaks louder than any other voice,” she says.
Tama is an actor, dancer, and founding member of Whiteface Crew. He brings his exceptional brand of enthusiasm and dedication to the role of an artist mentor, and extends our rangatahi in their ideas of dance and movement.
Laughton Kora is the lead singer of the international band Kora, and musical director for Grease and Amadeus. He is a Theatre director and singer /songwriter. He has been an artist mentor at NRT since 2017.
I am an Artist Mentor for the NRT during Manawa Ora. I’ll be working one on one with the young creatives and using music and songwriting as a tool to reflect and process their personal experiences. I believe creativity plays such a big role in development, because it did for me. I want to showcase their experiences through performance, whether it be through music or group improvisation. I was also involved in alternative education growing up so I feel I have a good understanding for this process. Performing arts has moulded and shaped me as an adult so if I can share that with someone else, I am very happy to. Inspiration is everywhere but I normally find my inspo in travelling or the people around me. My friends and family play a big roll. All my songs are written from an honest place and an experience.
Coco Solid, AKA Jessica Lee Hansell, is a musician, writer and artist. She worked with NRT as a mentor for Manawa Ora in 2015. “It twisted my melon, actual alchemy and magic happened with these genius kids… and I was so lucky to be a part of it,” she says.
Bella Kalolo has been a mentor with us since 2017 and her joy, humility is unbridled! She is a New Zealand based Soul Singer. She is Samoan, Maori and Tongan. Bella has worked with numerous performers both locally and internationally, adding her vocal skill to projects featuring Renee Geyer, Nathan Haines, Dave Dobbyn, Delta Goodrem, and Tina Cross.
Chris Graham is also one of the country’s most awarded music video directors, with 11 awards over a six year span, including a trio of Tui awards for Smashproof’s ‘Brother’, Dei Hamo’s ‘We Gon’ Ride’ & Scribe’s ‘Stand Up’. He made his music video debut in the United States with “Wild Out’ for hip hop artists Savage & Baby Bash, before shooting ‘Love the Islands’ for Savage across the Samoan Islands.
Graham’s short films include directing Bus Stop (2002 Melbourne Film Festival) and the technically ambitious Water. He has been mentoring with NRT since 2017 and is an asset to our programmes!
Jess has worked on Manawa Ora since 2015, as the production’s creative director. She chose to get involved with NRT because she believes everyone has creative potential and access to that potential creates opportunity for vulnerability, empowerment and knowing oneself. Beyond NRT, Jess is inspired by people living their truth. Her mantra? “Real human connection is practice. It is intentional and it is vulnerable.”
Jackie Wilson is a third-year Faculty of Creative Arts student who joined us as an Artist Mentor, and Teaching Artist, in 2017. She draws on her nurturing skills to work alongside her rangatahi, using screen-printing and the visual arts to develop their creativity and critical thinking.
She has always had a sense that not all children fit into our education system but they have every right to an education. She says of working with NRT, ‘there is so much I love about being here… but if I was to pick one thing it would be how everyone from NRT treats each other, the rangatahi, the mentors, the visitors, the volunteers and the communities they base themselves in.’ She truly believes that “when you give love, you will receive love”. Jackie is a wonderful asset to NRT and we love having her in the whanau.
Vanessa Green is an accomplished photographer, and amazing human being. She has extensive mentoring experience with young people, and has been with NRT since 2017.
Thomas Rose is an incredibly talented dancer, singer, and musician. He has been an artist mentor in both Manawa Ora and Takatū since 2015. He says ‘I never really chose or actively searched out NRT, my flat-mate put me in contact with Sarah in 2015 and I fell in love with the kaupapa. It becomes very apparent how much can be achieved when someone believes in you.’
Sara Beazley has been an artist mentor for Art ACTion, and Manawa Ora since 2014. She is a visual artist so she loves looking for things that inspire her. She looks up to her whanau and tries to capture the best part of each person in her images. She says ‘it was by chance I found Ngā Rangatahi Toa. Two years ago I got given a ticket to Manawa Ora and was blown away by the powerful performances. I felt a connection to the values and love that creativity is the vehicle to healing.’ Working with NRT constantly challenges Sara in new ways. She is inspired daily by her colleagues and her mentees. She says ‘It’s amazing to be around talented people with such broad skill sets and open minds. I’m grateful that we have tools in place to support each other and grow from a place of love, kindness and respect.
Anika started working with NRT in 2015 as a mentor for Manawa Ora to foster the talent of our precious, up-and-coming artistic youth. According to Anika, the best thing about working with NRT has been watching the rangatahi grow out of their shell and feel the freedom. “When you see self-belief in someone so young it makes you cry,” she says.
Dominic, also known as Tourettes is a poet, author and musician. He’s been involved with Manawa Ora and Art ACTion since 2013, making him one of our most long-standing mentors. For Dominic, NRT is an opportunity to focus his artistic knowledge and skill in a positive way. As a result, Dom says he’s learnt the power of vulnerability and love, and has kept a sense of purpose during difficult times. Outside of NRT, Dominic listens to Patti Smith and watches dog videos for inspiration.
Actress Teuila Blakely became involved with Nga Rangatahi Toa in 2015 as a mentor for Manawa Ora.