Youth take first dive at sea

By Talisa Kupenga

After twelve weeks the youth of Te Whanau o Waipareira's Nga Kawa o Tangaroa free dive programme finally set out to gather seafood for their families. They hit the water this week putting their training to the test, targeting kina for the catch-bag.

A feed of kina for the family from the seabeds of Tangaroa.

Six youth from the Nga Kawa o Tangaroa free dive programme took to the water to test their new skills.

Tumihitai Te Whero (Tainui, Ngāpuhi) got his first kina at the weekend. When asked how it felt, Te Whero said, "It was a relief because I was scared of them but not anymore."

The free dive course is funded for two years through the Massey Henderson local board. Thirty-six youth will receive training and a full dive kit before graduating from the free course.

Bailey Matthews (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kura) says, "It was just a mission coming back, trying to get to the rocks and stuff. The Jellyfish were annoying, they were everywhere but it was good fun."

Come Summer 18 youth will graduate the course equipped with the right skills and gear to safely free dive seafood for their families.

Director of the programme Donovan Busby says, "They've come a long way with regards to their skills in the water. They couldn't even get down two metres and now they are able to get down five metres and stay down there, thread weights onto the belts. And when we transfer those skills out into the ocean those skills kick in.

He says they're able to "hold their breath for long periods of time they're able to get three, four, five kina at a time."

Graduation will be held this December. The next intake of students will be underway next year.