Making a commitment to help youth

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

After being on home detention for drug possession and supply, Fred Bishop Jr. decided to make a change.  Now he's on a mission to provide opportunities and pathways for at-risk rangatahi.

“[I want to] try and open up their mind-span because right now it's just drugs, alcohol, violence and pretty much pregnancy,” says Bishop Jr.

Supported by the Te Pūnaha Hiringa: Māori Innovation Fund, Pakihi provides mentoring and workshops for Māori businesses and is targeted at three different phases, from ideas to growth and development.

Pakihi facilitator Midge Te Kani says, “A lot of whānau are not confident, don't believe their ideas are worthy so this is an opportunity for some of our people and to come in, build their confidence, bring them into workshops and just nurture their business ideas.”

Bishop Jr. wants to set up a youth centre with a music studio, tattooing, a clothing store, a play and chill area and other services to engage at-risk youth.

“The rangatahi that are feeling the vibe, bad ones- not the bad ones but the misguided ones- the unfortunate ones and ones like me, like I used to be.”

The Māori Innovation Fund is managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and sits under He Kai kei aku Ringa, the Crown-Māori strategy for Māori economic development.

Bishop Jr. says, “Today it's made my vision become more believable because I thought I couldn't do it, it was just a vision but now it feels like reality.”

Bishop Jr. hopes that a youth centre will help equip rangatahi with working skills that will lead them to other positive pathways.

“I want them to show them that they can be better than what they are, more than what they want to be, they can do better than us, our generation.

“[So I've] got to get my qualification, come to the wānanga to get my business course going and learn from the right people- skills, steps to do what I'm wanting to do.”

The next Pakihi workshop in Gisborne, Te Uma, will be held in two weeks’ time.