Under the guidance of Hekenukumai Busby, world renowned navigator, master carver and tohunga, Ngā Waka O Te Taitokerau has grown in strength and awareness. Despite the widely publicised deprivations in the Far North, the region is blessed by sea and coastline, traditional practices and strong whānau connections. The impact of participating whānau in Ngā Waka’s waka wānanga (drug, alcohol and violence free) and its integration of all aspects of wellbeing is well known.
Ngā Waka O Te Taitokerau seeks to empower, encourage and immerse ngā whānau in the learning of tikanga and activities relating to traditional Māori waka. This includes incorporating safety, navigation, mentoring, whakapapa, haka and whānaungatanga into the learning of traditional waka construction and maintenance.
Their Waka Hourua project provided a series of waka wānanga for high risk youth of all ethnicities, religions and groups. The young people learnt life skills from leaders trained in suicide prevention, healthy lifestyles, socialism and provide an opportunity for high risk youth to become a part of a wider community. The project comprised of four stages:
- Planning and training – enhancing the current wānanga programme to maximise the suicide prevention kaupapa and develop evaluation process. This included leaders undertaking ASIST Suicide Prevention Training.
- Two wānanga – over a three-month period at two Northland marae, and implement evaluation of programme and leader’s implementation of ASIST learning.
- Run one further wānanga.
- Evaluation and reporting – participation of all rōpū in 2015 Waitangi Celebrations and end of programme evaluation.