Despite being the holiday period for students, Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa descendants are using the time to upskill themselves to be future leaders for the iwi. Maripi Tuatini is an intensive Rangatahi Scholarship Programme which aims at promoting the wellbeing of rangatahi through a vast range of challenging activities.
Nayna Turia-Thompson of Ngāti Apa Ngā Wairiki says, "I think this initiative is both exciting and a humbling experience. It allows us, the youth and children of Ngāti Apa and Ngā Wairiki to return back to our roots, to learn about our genealogy, our customs and the traditions of our ancestors. But, the main thing is to be united and form strong relationships."
The first intake of the programme started in 2015 and those now senior members have had to sacrifice the first week of every holiday period since year nine of secondary school to meet the requirements.
Turia-Thompson says, "It's been really hard to leave all my mates to do their thing and I have had to commit to this initiative, but I like coming home."
Chairman of Te Runanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa, Grant Huwyler says, "This initiative derived from discussions at the time that were based on issues of the time that deeply affected Ngā Wairiki and Ngāti Apa. We are people of the country and rural areas but now most of our people have moved into the cities. So, we had to design a pathway that would lead our people back to our marae."
Te Hau Farms is a major iwi asset based in Parewanui. The farm is 400 hectares and has 1100 cows, and one day one of these youth could be managing it.
"We want to grow managers and workers to work our farms in the future," says Huwyler.
And like her grandmother, Tariana Turia who started off as a nurse, Turia-Thompson has aspirations to help her people.
"That's my pathway, I want to be a nurse. I want to follow the same pathway as my nan."
The scholarships for the program are provided by the sub-tribe and the tribe.