Rangatahi takes on Manurewa Tuia challenge

Publish Date : 20 Feb 2023
MLB Tuia
Suzie Rika was accompanied by her mother Sophia when she was formally welcomed as the Manurewa Local Board’s Tuia representative in 2023.

The first rangatahi to be selected to represent one of Auckland Council’s five southern local boards on the Tuia mentoring programme is Suzie Rika, from Manurewa.

The Franklin, Manurewa, Papakura, Māngere-Ōtāhuhu and Ōtara-Papatoetoe boards are all offering rangatahi places in the programme, which pairs local government members with young Māori to enhance their leadership skills.

A former James Cook student who has lived in Manurewa since she was six, Suzie says she wants to inspire other South Auckland youth.

“I went to a school that was packed with talented people but they weren’t always able to follow their dreams. I want to inspire rangatahi to believe they can be more than what they think they can be.

“We do get messages that we are South Auckland, that not much is expected of us, and that’s wrong. I’m looking forward to the opportunities Tuia will open up for me.”

Aimed at building a network of young leaders, growth within the Tuia scheme has seen it expand to now cover all five of the city’s local boards.

Manurewa Local Board Chair Glenn Murphy says he has only known Rika for a short time but what he has seen has already convinced him she is a stellar choice for the role.

“I’ve already experienced her commitment to her community. She was among the volunteers at Manurewa Marae during Cyclone Gabrielle, doing whatever was required.

“That ‘can do, get in there and help attitude’ is going to take this young woman a long way and we are privileged to be part of that journey.”

Fellow board member Anne Candy warned the Tuia recipient she was already selling herself short.

“You speak of inspiring young people, when in fact you inspire older ones like me too, simply because you make your – and my – community a better place.”

Tuia allows local government representatives from across the country to understand the perspectives rangatahi bring to issues, while allowing them to gain leadership skills and create nationwide networks.

Papakura, Ōtara-Papatoetoe, Māngere-Ōtāhuhu and Franklin are expected to finalise their Tuia selections this month.

Ōtara-Papatoetoe chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia has acted as a mentor before and says the scheme helps build relationships with the area’s young people. “That gives us access to ways of looking at things we might not otherwise have.”

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu chair Tauanu’u Nanai Nick Bakulich says Tuia remains an excellent opportunity for civic leaders to share their knowledge and experience with the leaders of the future. “Doing that means we can move forward stronger together.”

Tuia candidates must be between 18 and 25, have strong ties to the relevant area, be contributing to the well-being of their communities, and have the support of their iwi, hapū, marae, whānau or community-based group.

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