Māori students to attend NRL Indigenous Youth Summit

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Four Māori youth have been selected to represent the Vodafone Warriors at The Festival of Indigenous Rugby League youth summit in Sydney, Australia. The summit brings 68 Indigenous students chosen by all NRL clubs to participate in leadership workshops and self-development activities.

Ngawari Pio of Auckland Grammar School says, “To stand as a role model for my people and my family, to show leaders out there that we can do anything.”

Run by Aboriginal organisation Mirri Mirri, the NRL Indigenous Youth Summit is aimed at closing the gap in Indigenous education outcomes and employment.

“The door has opened so I'm taking the path, to meet other youth, stand as a leader for my family, and learn about their unique (Aboriginal) culture,” says Erita Thomson of Manurewa High School.

Four students have been selected by the Vodafone Warriors through a partnership with Moko Foundation, a non-profit based in Kaitāia that looks to provide opportunities in leadership, health and education.

Pio says, “I want to pursue new things, positive ideas, so my own ideas can guide me on a positive path. To discover new knowledge and connect with people from around the world.”

At 15 and 16 years of age, two of them are yet to board an airplane but they're all set to take flight.

Taipa Area School student Shalynd Ra'ui says, “I stand as a leader for my school, for my tribe and my family. I'm a little bit nervous about going but ultimately I'm ecstatic.”

They share hopes of being role models within their own families and their communities.

Pio elaborates, “So they don't go to bad places, so they too stand as role models like me, that's what I really want is to show them that we can do it.”

The summit takes place in Sydney from Wednesday to Sunday as part of the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League.