Our young people are amazing and brave. They are no longer in mainstream school because of behavioural issues or truanting, and are recruited from the alternative education classrooms we partner with in South Auckland. The young people involved with Ngā Rangatahi Toa have made a real commitment to changing their own lives through creativity and hard work. They don’t come to us as artists, but as young people wanting to find their voice and wanting to be heard. With us, through creativity, they learn to trust in themselves and others. They build the confidence they need to return to school, move into tertiary study or find employment.
Our graduates are out there in the world being awesome. Many have moved on from our programs and returned successfully to mainstream education working towards achieving NCEA Levels 2 and 3. Others have graduated from degree-level courses, been employed as teacher aides to run their own creative arts and literacy programs, have returned to teach at the youth justice facility where they were once a ‘guest’, starred in short films and TV ads, performed at leading Auckland theatres and committed to part-time work while studying. Some have come full circle and are now mentors to other young people who are in the same place they were once in.
Ngā Rangatahi Toa changed my life. Through being involved in Manawa Ora I met my boss. I went from being kicked outta school, on the wrong path, to now working at a primary school, teaching kids and building their confidence. None of this would’ve happened without Ngā Rangatahi Toa. My next step is training in teaching and giving back to the youth coming up, telling them what I went through and how to stay strong. Ngā Rangatahi Toa showed me that I can achieve my dreams.
Ngā Rangatahi Toa is amazing, the people are warm and good and make me feel loved. They’ve helped me to believe that there is more to life than getting drunk and hanging on the streets. I have done Manawa Ora with Anika Moa. I’m so excited about being a part of it, to write songs and to sing. I’m so grateful that I get this opportunity.