When you walk down the quiet and leafy streets of Papanui, you might be surprised to see a big green sign directing you to a new Whare on Windermere Road. The sign belongs to Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi, who you may also be surprised to learn have been supporting rangatahi (young people) and whānau (families) in Ōtautahi for almost 40 years.
The 40 kaimahi (staff) of Te Ora Hou’s specialist team have supported thousands of Māori and Pasifika in Ōtautahi to complete the journey from Tamariki tū Rangatahi tū Rangatira (childhood into adulthood) in a safe and healthy way.
The aim is to begin a process of intergenerational change, disrupting negative cycles and helping to guide young people to realise their own potential – as good neighbours, employees, parents, family members and valued members of the wider community.
Te Ora Hou can represent a final chance for some rangatahi to take control of their own destiny, and carve out a path free from crime, violence and abuse and no one knows this better than seventeen-year-old Manahi, who states “I literally would be in jail right now if it wasn’t for Te Ora Hou – I know that.”
Manahi started getting in trouble at a young age and was on a bad path. “The way I was heading, getting in trouble every day, my mentality was I’m just going to end up in jail. The majority of people in my family were in and out, and I just wanted to be like them.”
Through his time at Te Kaupapa Whakaora, the alternative education school that Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi run, Manahi soon saw the opportunities in front of him. “I was only shown one way to live, but coming here to Te Ora Hou and TKW showed me a different side to life. Te Ora Hou makes you realise you can change.”
Change is a constant at Te Ora Hou’s Windermere Road, and the kaimahi see change and growth both through individuals they work alongside and the site itself on a daily basis.
General Manager Jono Campbell says that in amongst all these transformations, there are things that have remained true since the organisation’s inception in 1983.
“Through all the changes we’ve experienced over the years, and the different challenges to today’s rangatahi, the key principles remain. Adolescence is a tough time, more so now than ever. Everyone needs to be given opportunity. You need good people around you, you need love, fun, joy, hope, and challenge. It’s fundamental.”
“The build of this new Whare heralds another important change for Te Ora Hou. Since the earthquakes, we have been working to create something unique for west of the city; a site that meets the cultural, spiritual and identity needs of the young people we work with, and that speaks to the unique character of Ōtautahi and its collaborative approaches to youth development.”
The Whare will create a place for people to connect, share ideas and share themselves. More than just a meeting space, it is a legacy project, and opportunity to weave together Mana Whenua Pūrākau (the stories of the people of the land), Te Ora Hou Pūrākau (the stories of Te Ora Hou) and urban Ōtautahi Pūrākau (the stories of urban Māori in Christchurch).
This Whare will be of special significance to urban Māori who Te Ora Hou typically engage with, and who often feel they lack a physical tūrangawaewae (place to stand) and may feel disconnected from their culture or whakapapa. Designed from a kaupapa Māori perspective the Whare will encapsulate Te Ao Māori and tikanga practices too.
The Whare will provide the opportunity for tūhonohono (building positive connections and reconnections) for both rangatahi and their whānau increasing the sense of pride, ownership and belonging they have within their local community.
Construction has begun on the Windermere Road site, and of the $1 million needed to raise to make this Whare a reality, Te Ora Hou have already fundraised an impressive $680,000. With only $320,000 left they are looking to the wider community to help bridge the gap.
Campbell invites anyone interested in supporting the work that Te Ora Hou does to head to toho.org.nz to read more about their work and this important project. Donations can be made via the website.
“We might not be the biggest or flashest organisation, but we live the values that resonate with people – to build better community and outcomes for rangatahi and their whānau.”