Imagine if you had a toolkit in the palm of your hand to help you get through the big move from intermediate to secondary school: a way to understand why stuff sometimes feels a bit ‘too-hard basket’; a place to start when you want to make your head feel better about things. That’s Ngā Puāwai!

Programme Summary​​​​​​​

Ngā Puāwai is an 8-week Te Ao Māori lens programme for school years 7-10. Developed and nurtured by generations of our Youthtown Taupō whānau, we offer Ngā Puāwai to rangatahi who find themselves feeling stuck or lost between stages.

This programme supports kōtiro - young women - outside the classroom to help them be the difference inside the classroom. It can be run in class time during the term at school or off-site and the sequencing is designed to be flexible to the group’s context.

Ngā Puāwai grows understanding around the parts that hauora (wellbeing), tūhononga (connection) and aumangea (resilience) play in feeling good now, but also in being able to figure out and deal with the unknown of next.

Why Ngā Puāwai?

Ngā Puāwai provides non-academic engagement which addresses the pastoral support needs of kōtiro. We maintain close links with school staff and other support workers to enhance the ring of care around each participant.

We remove barriers to growth opportunities by running activities in school-time, running sessions exclusively for self-identified kōtiro.

We know that our ability to build and strengthen connections will make or break the experience for a young person experiencing turbulence and change. Our wāhine - female staff are invited to lead the programme, and we seek out other inspirational wāhine to be a part of Ngā Puāwai wherever possible.

What is involved?

Ngā Puāwai runs across 8 weeks and can include onsite/offsite activities, plus a final ‘leap of faith’ wero - challenge. How we run the programme across Aotearoa is the same, but the activities and wero may look different in different regions.

Outside of the introduction and conclusion to the programme, everything is designed to be flexible for kaiako – instructors - to sequence in the way that has the most impact on the group. Ngā Puāwai welcomes in different youth development approaches, staff strengths and skills and, importantly, offers young people the chance to be actively involved in the design process.

Sessions are structured, but the first session of the programme is given over to, alongside whanaungatanga, planning what will go in the activity slots. We encourage groups to take a lead in deciding the achievable activities that support the message of the session.

How do we know it works? 

Ngā Puāwai graduates and their teachers report seeing improved confidence, academic performance, more stable behavioural patterns and social cohesion within the school environment.

In the words of one kōtiro: “This is the best programme I have ever been on!”

Here is how we think about change for the kōtiro on Ngā Puāwai: