Empowering Māori youth to be confident of their unique identity

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Platforms like Facebook are serving as modern-day marae courtyards according to Māori social media expert Dr Acushla Sciascia. Perth based Hana Tapiata who has established a social media enterprise is taking advantage and engaging with thousands of Māori on issues around identity.

“I’ve learnt that many Māori are embarrassed about their identity so I want to empower them, all of us,” says Tapiata.

She started Te Urupu Media, a social media enterprise based in Perth that supporting Māori in Australia and abroad in online business and personal development.

“What I do is help businesses tell their stories better so that it reaches their followers,” says Tapiata.

With a growing online presence, Hana uploads online videos to multiple online social media platforms to motivate Māori through her page.

“They don't have to follow this path, many aren't keen to do videos and speak. I encourage youth, everyone, to pursue what they're passionate about,” says Tapiata.

“They want to connect to their marae, to know who their ancestors are, who their relatives are, so they connect through Facebook… this is a pathway for them to gain a deeper understanding of their identity” says Dr Sciascia.

She reminds us that social media is just a tool to engage, it can't replace face to face contact.

“Social media is good to reach out, however, nothing can substitute sitting one on one with your elder.”

Dr Sciascia says Māori can benefit by embracing the tools in culturally appropriate ways.