Te Waka Tuhono Enabled Me To Reconnect

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Your Stories
December 19, 2022

A rough childhood set me on a dangerous path of drinking, drugs and parties throughout my teenagers years, but the Te Waka Tuhono Kaupapa enabled me to find myself again. 

I was part of the very first ropu of Te Waka Tuhono, back when it first started in 2019. I was still in school at the time and things weren’t going well.

Growing up I was subjected to abuse and a lot of who I was stemmed from that. Partying, drugs and alcohol were my sole focus in life and I didn’t care about anything else.

I did it all just to numb everything I was feeling, but I know now that I wasn’t fixing anything. I had gone off the rails and I needed to find my way back.

It was at that time I was referred to Te Waka Tuhono by Youth Services, who I had been seeing since I was 13. It came at the perfect time and it completely turned my life around!

I began my Te Waka Tuhono journey when we headed away on a nohonga to “Te Koawa Turoa o Takitimu” - an amazing lodge that sits at the foot of our ancestral Maunga “Takitimu” in the Blackmount Valley. My Runaka, Oraka Aparima are the Kaitiaki of Te Koawa. On this journey with me, there were six other rangatahi.   We very quickly bonded and enjoyed singing, learning waiata and listening to Matua korero about our tikanga.  We went on long hikoi through the ngahere and I was able to look at this through the lens of my Tupuna…it was an amazing feeling! And I was able to reconnect with my whenua. Te Waka Tuhono whanau showed me what is important – whanau, my culture and the whenua! I had been lost but I was slowly starting to find myself again during our nohonga. I quickly learnt, it all starts with where you come from. 

During our hikoi we entered the realm and Mauri of the Waiau Awa, we stood quiet and still while karakia was recited, it enabled me to be in the moment. I found that helps me a lot even now when I sometimes have flashbacks to awful memories. It has taught me to take time to think and be in the moment, that I’m here and it’s ok now!

Our journey took us to … te “Roto o Te Ana-au”/ Lake Te Ana-au where we done Waka Ama, we also participated in “he ropu wananga” /group workshops, and we made kowhaiwhai panels which gave us a break from whatever was going in our lives. At the time, I really needed that. We did waiata and learnt the haka. They reconnected me with who I was and completely changed my life.

Te Waka Tuhono taught me strategies on how to cope when everything feels a bit much, and I know that no matter what happens I can always reach out to them if I need someone to talk to.

Being a part of Te Waka Tuhono helped me so much. It was a good wakeup and it made me realise what’s really important in life, and it wasn’t alcohol or drugs! They showed me that actually I have got this!

Without these people backing me I probably wouldn’t have continued on my path to wellness.

Te Waka Tuhono changed my way of thinking and set me on the right path. This was the beginning of my journey. Soon after, I started seeing a counsellor to deal with my past issues to fix it properly instead of masking it.

Things are really looking up. I recently graduated (NCEA Level 3) and next year I am off to SIT to do a social work certificate. I want to be in the helping profession – especially with youth.

I am a Mum to a beautiful wee boy and I am loving life. I’m really looking forward to my future now!

He iti noa….
He pito mata ahau
I am a source of unlimited potential

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