Tawhitinui Marae Sleepover

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai were welcomed onto the Marae, and for some of our rangatahi this was their first experience on a marae, but our hosts looked after us so well. Over morning-tea we spent time getting to know each other and then did a small introduction and whakawhanaungatanga.

It was then off to Waimarino, an adventure park with so many fun and adventurous activities. The first activity was kayaking, where instructor Jack took everyone out and made each person stand up on their kayak, fall into the water and then learn how to help each other tip the water out of the kayak and then climb back in. Lots of laughter ensued as people tipped each other over, some struggled to get back in, or caused another capsize in the process. It was an incredible team building exercise and really cemented friendships in only a half an hour time period. As exhaustion from the kayaks kicked in, the group headed into the picnic area and had a sausage sizzle, then played some volleyball before being able to swim again.

Everyone cheered each other on as people overcame their fears doing things like jumping off the high diving board, or going down the missile fast water slide, or jumping off the platform and onto the blob launcher. The group had a representative from Oranga Tamariki, and a representative from Real NZ, as well as the VOYCE team, and there was nothing but smiles and laughter coming from everyone. It was all fun and a great way to make everyone unite as one great big team.

The next day, after breakfast we had a focused creative session to look at what we wanted VOYCE to be and how each person would like to be involved. This was a powerful session with rangatahi sharing that they had not known that VOYCE existed and what a difference it would have made to their care experience to have someone independent to talk to. We concluded this session by outlining a plan for a future leadership group.

We then had a flax weaving lesson from Aunty Donna where most of us made bangles, apart from one rangatahi who knew how to weave and made an awesome flower. It was a nice time relaxing in the sun, joking and laughing together as everyone worked on their new weaving skills, everyone helping each other.

Next, everyone grabbed their togs and a hangi parcel and headed to the river where we got to sit and eat, then swim in the fresh water.

This was such a happy event for everyone involved, and some long-lasting connections have been made between youth and the leaders from different organisations. Such a trust building weekend, and all of the rangatahi said that they wanted to keep doing this on a monthly basis.

Some quotes from our rangatahi

“next time we do this we have to get my sister to come, she would love this too”

“this has been the best weekend ever”

“I didn’t think I would like it, but I had a really good time”