Whenua Iti Take New Programmes to Te Tai Poutini

by Bree Arnott

Whenua Iti Outdoors (WIO) are expanding their range of programmes delivered on the West Coast to further support rangatahi, tamariki and the wider community of Te Tai Poutini.

 “We have been working alongside other youth support organisations on the West Coast to look for opportunities to be involved where it’s needed most,” says Mark Bruce-Miller, our General Manager. 

WIO are no strangers to working with students from the West Coast, collaborating with many Secondary Schools through the West Coast Trades Academy (WCTA), offering programmes that are fully funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE). They offer a range of Year 11 – 13 programmes that provide learning opportunities outside of the classroom that support NCEA Level 2 or 3 achievement. This includes the Civil Defence Emergency Response Programme, which last year took their students to the flood-affected areas of Westport to assist with volunteer efforts and learn about the civil defence response in-situ as well as Adventure Tourism, Manaaki Tāpoi (Cultural Tourism) and Conservation Programmes.   

New Holiday Programmes for the West Coast!

This year WIO have offered adventure holiday programmes based out of Greymouth and Westport for children aged 7-14, thanks to additional funding from Sport Canterbury, Oranga Tamariki and the Lotteries Community Fund.  Holiday programme community feedback has been very positive, with waitlists already for the July school holidays.

“After a hard year of floods and being displaced it was such a treat. It also instilled confidence in my son and challenged him out of his comfort zone. It would be great for Whenua Iti to have more of a presence in Westport doing this activity to strengthen our youth using the outdoors,” – Parent Feedback

In Westport, Whenua Iti are running programmes as part of the Rising Rangatahi youth initiative, which includes holiday programmes, and an in-term programme to help build confidence in youth who could do with an extra boost, working with local youth coordinators to ensure the programmes reach the right families.  

“It’s incredible to hear and see the benefits from these programmes, although our initial target audience of 16+ year olds wasn’t quite gaining traction, I think moving into the younger age bracket at least for the moment and working from a prevention level is truly what the community needs, and that’s already showing its impact” says Tessa Spillane the Rising Rangatahi and Youth Services Co-ordinator.  

YouTube video
A short video of the latest Kawatiri Adventurers Programme on the West Coast

“We are so much more effective when we work together with schools, community organisations and iwi who are already strongly connected with the community here as part of a collaborative effort to uplift local youth. Whenua Iti can bring highly trained and experienced instructors who are qualified to deliver outdoor programmes in a way that enables children to feel safe and supported enough to give new things a go. It’s through these shared challenges that we see young people walk away from our programmes a little taller,” says Mark. 

One of our instructors, Gilby, has particularly enjoyed working with students as they explored their backyard, “It’s such an awesome environment over here. We love being able to connect students to their tūrangawaewae. The options are endless for adventure and challenge in this landscape. We were based in the Charleston Area which just has so much to offer and have been caving, rock climbing, camping and tramping. There is something very special, almost spiritual, about the geology, awa, moana and ngāhere of the coast.” 

Nature Connection Programmes

Another suite of programming on offer to West Coast primary and intermediate schools are the Tamariki Tiaki nature connection programmes. These are part of a wider project that received Jobs for Nature funding through the Department of Conservation (DOC) to provide nature connection experiences to as many tamariki and rangatahi in schools, iwi and community groups as possible within the Te Tau Ihu and Northern Tai Poutini regions. Whenua Iti have recently run the first of these programmes for Westport North and Westport South Schools where students participated in activities such as grass whistle blowing, predator tracking, stream testing, tree planting, drinking bush tea and listening to a local Māori pūrakau (story) to help them connect with, and learn about, the very special Martins Creek Wetland. 
(READ MORE IN OUR ARTICLE – Kaimahi for Nature Project Reaches Te Tai Poutini Tamariki)

“Our team, instructors and admin staff alike, have had such a warm welcome on the coast whenever we have been, we look forward to having a regular presence in Te Tai Poutini to support the community by engaging youth and schools in the outdoors through a range of cultural, adventurous & environmental experiential learning opportunities” says Bruce-Miller. 

For more information about programmes available on the West Coast, view our webpage.

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