Te Pātaka - Whaioro Trust

The Innovation: Project Tuakana

Project Tuakana is a kaupapa Māori rangatahi / youth mentoring programme which targets young Māori males between 10–17 years of age, who have been identified as requiring additional support with life skills to reach their full potential.

Whaioro Trust – Tuakana Teina Project

Geraldine, past Project Co-ordinator: Project Tuakana is a mentoring-type programme.  It’s kaupapa Maori and it’s for young rangatahi tama / boys between the ages of 10 and 18.

Damian, Tuakana: I first got involved with the Tuakana Project, primarily because I could see the potential that it offered to young people.

Tracey, Teina Mum: I wanted to be involved with the programme because my son needed a man to talk to.  I think he needed someone to talk to that wasn’t associated with me, that was just all about him.

Reweti, Tuakana: What really drew me to the Tuakana Teina Project was I felt that I could help out with young Maori men realising their dreams.

Rowena, Whaioro Trust: The kaupapa is really important in terms of the whole scheme of things, is mentoring.  Having a Tuakana Teina programme, particularly with a Maori emphasis, makes it different from the other programmes that are out there like the ‘Big Brother/Big Sister’ in that it actually focuses on things Maori.

Jesse, Teina: I was getting real troubled.  My mother was worrying about me and she thought, “well maybe it’s good if he has a male figure in his life” so she started me out with the Tuakana Teina programme and it went really well.  I had a real nice tuakana and um, yeah.

Rachel, Teina Mum: My oldest son was having trouble at school.  The teachers knew our situation and one of them put his name forward to take part in the programme.

Reweti: There’s definitely a shortage of male role models in families.  I’ve seen Nikora grow from not-so-confident, to just having a bit more swag to his step and growing more and more and his ability just take on life.

Damian: An opportunity to speak into a young person’s life who has already made themselves available.

Rachel: The benefits have been fantastic, especially for my middle son.  He’s found it really, really fantastic – big brother.  And they get on really well.  I know that my son can go to him with problems.  And it’s good to know that he has that support that’s not within the family.  He’s secure knowing that it’s not going to go any further than just having a chat with his big brother, getting opinions and some advice and stuff like that.  So yeah it’s been really invaluable.

Tracey: Even Jesse’s school was involved.  When I had an interview with his dean at school his Tuakana came along to that and Geraldine was involved with that as well.  So we only ever had to work with one programme.

Rowena: That was a structured mentoring programme so that you had someone who was co-ordinating the whole process around the matching of Tuakana with the Teina, making sure they had the right people.

Damian: It was really easy to connect, and to engage, and to communicate, and to kind of vibe with my Teina.

Geraldine: It’s really there to help them achieve better things for themselves in life, and to overcome day-to-day challenges and activities that they might need to go through.

Jesse: I just focus on my school work and focus on what’s gonna take me forward, not back.  And it has worked.  Everything that he has said has worked.

Reweti: Finding our own solutions to our problems and working them through day by day.

Tracey: They had a lot to do with the other Tuakana and Teina.  They put together a music video and they wrote a song together.  Yeah, it was fantastic.

Rowena: The Tuakana role was not about taking over from the whanau.  And so they were in addition to actually helping the whanau with the Teina.

Tracey: He needed the relationship with the Tuakana because he didn’t get along well with his stepfather.  I mean, they got along but he didn’t have the type of relationship where he could talk to him about personal things.  Maybe issues with his mates or his girlfriend, it wasn’t that type of relationship.  So having a Tuakana gave him the ability to express himself.

Geraldine: So you’re dealing with a whole wide community / collaboration service around these young people and their needs.

Reweti: The impact on the Teina is being more self-aware and believing in themselves.

Rowena: So the self-leadership training was about teaching for the Teina, teaching them how to think.

Jesse: Did a three day course.  It actually had a really good impact on my life.  A lot of deep stuff was said.

Damian: It’s just so great to see a young man with so many opportunities before him.  He’s chosen the right avenue for him.  He’s pursuing his musical interests and basically he’s living his dream, thanks in part to the Tuakana programme.

Reweti: I see the guys walking around in the malls and in the skate park and things like that.  And they give you the thumbs up and you kind of feel like you’re associated with something that’s really positive.

Tracey: I didn’t have to worry so much because I knew he was talking to somebody instead of bottling it up.  Because you know, we don’t want teenagers to bottle things up.

Jesse: Being with the programme changed my relationship with my mum and my stepdad and my family at home.  It’s a lot more peaceful at home at the moment.  There’s not as many fights and yeah, it’s just been a lot better.

Reweti: He ended up teaching me when I was trying to teach him.  So I think we’ve benefitted off each other.  It’s reciprocal.  So you’re not just giving, you’re learning.

Tracey: Me and Jesse get a relationship and he’s more of a friend to his little brother and sister now.  And yeah, things got on a lot better at home since having the Tuakana project involved.

Damian: The Tuakana programme is just an amazing programme.  The benefits to the Teina and to the Tuakana are immeasurable.  I think that a programme that allow young people to engage and connect with an older person to positively influence them is something that should last forever.

Reweti: Yeah it’s been an amazing experience for the both of us.

Geraldine: The mentoring of the young person is not done in isolation.  It’s actually done with their whanau.

Tracey: The thing I appreciate the most about the programme is the fact that I have a relationship now with my son.

Geraldine: It’s about reconnecting our young people as well as their whanau back to their whenua and back to their whakapapa.

Rachel: For anyone even thinking of getting involved, I would totally recommend it.  The benefits are just life-changing.

Reweti: Sharing just life experiences.  Things like that, yeah.


About Whaioro Trust

Whaioro Trust is a Maori Mental Health service providing opportunities for people with mental health issues.     

The Trust’s services are free and include:

  • culturally competent staff
  • educational information
  • advocacy and support
  • vocational opportunities  .


Whaioro Trust

602–606 Main St
Palmerston North

Ph: 06 354 0670
Fax: 06 355 7201
Cell: 027 2957 481

Website: http://www.whaioro.org.nz

Disclaimer: This page and the innovation it accompanies do not represent the views of the Ministry of Health. The views represented are those of Whaioro Trust and the innovation piloted.

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