Celebrating our Ignite Graduates!

by Lucy Carver

This year’s graduates of the three-year Ignite programme celebrate the journey with a week of adventures on the West Coast. Participants and instructors reflect on the boost in confidence this programme has provided.

Congratulations to Alexander Lightfoot, Alexander Lock, Cyris Aldworth, George Emery, Jake Barnett, Jakib Hedges, Ken Takahashi, Lukas McEnroe, Sonny Campbell, Temaru Teaukura, Tommy Pozzetti and Van Kroupa – the students from Motueka High School who graduated from the latest Ignite programme! 

The Ignite programme provides participants with stimulus for positive change and personal development over a three-year period (Year 9, 10 and 11). It is an opportunity for participants to improve their skill set to enable them to seize opportunities, grow in confidence and be motivated towards making the most of their time at school.  

Students caving at Winchead Cave near Charleston and rafting on Kawatiri / Buller river

Whenua Iti instructors support participants to ‘ignite’ their full potential through a series of outdoor adventures and challenges. Lead instructor Gilby had a lot to say about this group of young men. “One thing I truly admire about this group is that in the beginning they each probably only knew one or two others, but over the course of three years these boys have become close friends, always looking out for everyone in the group and including each other.” 

The activities on their programme included rock-climbing, abseiling, rafting, tramping, caving, high-rope challenges, camping out under tent flies whilst cooking meals and assisting in preparation and planning for the adventures. The life-skills gained are an essential component of the Ignite experience. “This is hand on heart the most rewarding programme I am involved in at Whenua Iti Outdoors,” says Gilby, “seeing the growth of self-development and social maturity in each participant.” 

Participants rounded off the programme with a highlight week filled with rafting down the Buller River, caving at Winchhead caves and exploring the Hole in the Hill arch near Charleston. All participants agreed that the programme had a positive impact on their attitude and helped develop their teamwork skills. One participant reflected, “I learnt that I can challenge myself a lot more, because I can do it, it’s just all in my head.” 

Participants also overwhelmingly reported that the programme boosted their confidence. “This programme has been very beneficial for me because I am a shy person and this course has helped me to open up and talk to others more,” said one participant. Another recounted, “Ignite has greatly helped boost my confidence and leadership skills. It’s helped me become the person I want to be.” 

Participants with a well-earned West Coast pie after a big mission! and at their graduation ceremony at Whenua Iti Outdoors

The Ignite programme was established and funded with the generosity of a local community donor who identified the need in our community to provide a platform for young men to be given the opportunity for self-development and as potential future leaders. It has been championed by Motueka High School, which provides additional mentoring and student support to enhance the learning opportunities throughout the programme. As one participant reports, “I feel like this course has shaped me to be a better person for who I need to be in the future.” 

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