Rangatahi step up to tackle environmental issues

By Regan Paranihi

Young leaders are tackling some of the country's biggest issues as part of a rangatahi initiative.   Te Ao spoke to rangatahi Māori at The Blake Inspire Leadership Development programme in Waikato.

55 rangatahi leaders from across the country have arrived at Tūrangawaewae Marae,  a starting point in their exposure to environmental issues.

Harono Hokianga of Ngāpuhi says "I want to go to the chiefs of my iwi to discuss some strategies around how to preserve our environment at home because there are many problems at home and that's where I want to help."

Rangatahi from across NZ were selected to take part in the five-day course, where the environment was at the forefront of  discussions.

The course is timely, with the release of the Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, which showed that 4,000 of New Zealand's native species are currently threatened with, or at risk of extinction.

The report also shows that 90% of seabirds and 80% of shorebirds are threatened with, or at risk of extinction and that two-thirds of the rare ecosystems present in Aotearoa are under threat of collapse.

Mahanga Mitchell (Hokianga) says he is "gathered up with some other young delegates from up and down the country, focusing on environmental issues and how we can do our part to save our planet."

This is a chance for these leaders to connect, hear and see their peer's opinions.

"It's cool to see that there are other young people like me like getting involved in their communities, trying to help out the environment for the greater good," says Mitchell.

The location of the course has also inspired many of the rangatahi present.

"Everybody talks about that black sand, that you gotta get in your feet in Raglan," says Mitchell, "It was just an amazing experience, beautiful coastline...going kayaking and getting to know everybody."

Hokianga adds, "When we went to Turangawaewae the activities we did there were Māori ones...[learning] about Māori protocols and all things Māori, to give them insight into Māori knowledge."

These rangatahi hope to grasp all the knowledge that has been given to them over the past few days in the hope to make their environment a better and safer place.