Confidence and Connection

April 11, 2023

Cast members of the 2022 Ngā Rangatahi Toa Manawa Ora performance.

Zee is 14 years old and lives with her Mum and brother in West Auckland. Many of her whānau live in Western Australia, and Zee has spent much of her life moving back and forth between there and Auckland. “I used to be outgoing.”, she says, “but by the time I joined Ngā Rangatahi Toa I had become so good at blending into the background that I could almost make myself invisible.”

Zee* is interested in the visual arts, inventing characters and storylines, and drawing storyboards of their interactions. Her teachers saw that she was creative but her school attendance wasn’t great so they introduced her to Ngā Rangatahi Toa (NRT). They thought NRT’s programmes, which are grounded in the creative arts, might help her unlock a deeper sense of self and purpose.

Some of the funding NRT receives in One Percent Collective donations is used for the group’s Noho Wānanga creative workshops and for Manawa Ora, the annual theatre performance that rangatahi devise themselves in collaboration with creative artists in an intense week-long series of rehearsals. 

Zee says her confidence and sense of connection increased massively through these experiences, and that she now tells other rangatahi contemplating a Noho Wānanga experience that “Whatever you have on that weekend, cancel it!” so they can attend. She’s now such an advocate for the benefits of NRT’s creative-based approach that she’s introduced three friends to the group.  

Zee’s increased confidence means she’s become a peer leader within NRT and a solid supporter of newcomers to the programme. Nowadays she watches the video of the Manawa Ora performances and can’t believe it's her on Youtube, stepping outside her shyness to command the stage. 

“The world looks better when people help you to do something you didn’t ever think you could do. As a really shy person, I can’t believe I did that!”

2022 saw the cast of Manawa Ora exploring the concept of ‘Te Hīhiri’ which points to the idea of a ‘spark’ igniting and empowering change and action.

Watch the full 2022 Manawa Ora performance.

Words and images supplied by Ngā Rangatahi Toa

*Name changed to respect privacy.

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