As a part of the wider work being undertaken in the Rangatahi space by Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu, the team have been designing and prototyping a Rangatahi innovation kaupapa exploring how rangatahi can improve health and wellbeing outcomes.
Using the Healthy Families principles; adaptation, experimentation, equity of outcome and collaboration for effective impact, the Rangatahi Innovation team have worked with two cohorts of Rangatahi between the ages of 16-24 over the past 9 months that focusses on four pou; Te Ao Māori, Te Taiao, Skills and Development, and Iwi and Community service.
“In order to change the system where currently young people, in particular young Māori men, are over-represented in poor health statistics, we need to provide opportunities for Rangatahi that enable them to be the change makers. The Rangatahi Innovation kaupapa provides a safe space for our young people to learn about themselves, their peers, their culture and their wider community while upskilling,” says Healthy Families Systems Innovator Lee-Arna Nepia.
Rangatahi Innovation leads Hepi Ferris-Bretherton and Shade Tuaine-Whānau, have worked with key organisations and collaborators to form the basis of the kaupapa that sees the participants gain level 3 pre-trade qualifications alongside the many other holistic benefits they gain by participating, such as building confidence, resilience and understanding self-care.
“Our Rangatahi have to complete 300 hours of work experience in relation to first aid, manual handling, working at heights, low level scaffolding, site safety and driving a forklift. Each of these things feeds into our iwi and community pou and are tailored to be undertaken on the marae and within our community. This provides the opportunity to learn about basic cultural practices, for example pepeha, ruruku, tikanga, waiata, understanding our relationship ā hinengaro ā wairua ā tinana with the environment, walking our pepeha, visiting the maunga and awa, mahinga kai – gardening, learning how to grow kai, fishing, hunting – some of which our rangatahi haven’t been exposed to or engaged with before,” says Ferris-Bretherton.
“This kaupapa is about relationship building, connection, and a sense of belonging and to achieve this we have to be responsive to the needs of our rangatahi and adapt to meet them constantly”.
“The first cohort determined that securing work was a priority for them and as such that’s what they worked towards. They told us that looking after their whānau was their focus” he said.
Gill Potaka-Osborne, community evaluator at Whakauae has been engaged to undertake the evaluation “the Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu team have local knowledge, connections and relationships and as such have been able to support the rangatahi participants engaged in the innovation kaupapa in a number of ways. They have an overarching framework but the implementation itself evolves and unfolds over time”.
“One of the great things is over COVID they managed to keep their rangatahi engaged this is a testament to those involved and the local Iwi/Māori COVID response” she said.
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period the Rangatahi innovation team established a digital village to ensure rangatahi continued to be engaged, they had regular contact both with the kaimahi and each other in order to assist them to navigate this unprecedented event.
“The kaimahi are rangatahi themselves and they are very passionate about what they do, this kaupapa is providing the Rangatahi an opportunity to understand the potential they have,, showing them what the community can offer, the practical things that they need to navigate life and its grounded in te ao Māori, ” said Potaka-Osborne.
“We know that health and wellbeing is centred on belonging, there’s a trust and brotherhood that’s been established unintendedly within this kaupapa – a safe haven for Rangatahi to come to, and we’ve been able to maintain relationships after the cohort, still connecting with each other which is important,” said Ferris-Bretherton.
“One of the rangatahi I was working with was in the first cohort, he was serious high risk – he hugely benefited from having a daily routine, something to get up for, people who cared and showed an interest in what he was doing. He developed good sleep patterns and a healthier lifestyle, and his mental health issues started to fall away as he wasn’t just sitting at home by himself in his own head. Now he’s got a job and he’s doing really well” said Hayden Bradley, Rangatahi Innovation Team Leader.
“The learnings from this way of working, of placing rangatahi and their wellbeing at the centre and actively engaging them to co-design their own solutions is pivotal to achieving better health and wellbeing outcomes” says Change Agent and Healthy Families Manager Rebecca Davis.
“The more examples of the success of this way of working we are able to provide, the more evidence and leverage there is to make systemic change across the board, in all areas that impact the health and wellbeing of our young people” she said.
 Whakauae Research Services Ltd.