Te Hapai Hoe is a new charitable organisation for waka ama in Taranaki. The organisation aims to support Taranaki whānau to a positive future through the experience and culture of waka.
Simon Howard, Supported Resolution Coordinator for the NZ Police, said experiential learning like waka ama benefits young people in many ways.
“We are using waka ama to help young people that may have come through the police system, or need something more aspirational in their lives. The greater the experience, the more likely young people are to contextualize any trauma or problems,” Simon said.
Toi Foundation provided a grant of $49k for the canoes, paddles and safety equipment. Simon said the grant opened up the opportunity to collaborate with other groups and local iwi.
“The Port of Taranaki has let us use some land by the waterfront. We’ve got the resources of the NZ Police and the support of local iwi. One piece that we didn’t have was funding. We approached the Toi Foundation and they supported us to make that application.”
“We will be able to take 100 kids through the programme each year,” Simon said.
Waka ama resonates with young Māori, said Brad Huntley, chair of Te Hapai Hoe, who has spent close to 20 years of his life within the waka ama community.
“It brings happiness and connection to the ocean and people, which in itself is very healing.”