Just be you

September 9, 2020

Over the past 12 months, One Percent Collective’s generous givers have raised over $56,000 for Ngā Rangatahi Toa. NRT’s youth development team use a blend of creative arts and wellbeing programmes to allow rangatahi to develop the skills to choose their own paths.

Sylas is in Year 11 and lives with his whānau in Māngere, Auckland. He has been involved with NRT's programmes for over a year now.

To give One Percent Collective givers a sense of how their dollars make a difference, we passed some questions for Sylas on to NRT’s Executive Director, Huia O’Sullivan. Huia also had a few questions of her own. Here’s what Sylas had to say.

What is your whakapapa? My family is from the Waikato, Hamilton. My iwi is Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Maniapoto.

How did you get involved with NRT? It was through my school, Māngere College. I was first introduced to it by my Māori teacher and she asked me if I wanted to get involved with something that will better myself. I said, ‘Yep’ but I didn’t say it coz I knew what was coming, I said yes because I like to try new things.

What has kept you involved with NRT’s programmes? The bonds and connections I’ve made throughout the journey.

What changes have you noticed in yourself since you’ve been involved with NRT I’ve noticed that I’m eager to meet new people. I’m not always shying away and being the odd one out. And I’ve made a lot of good friends on the way.

How do you think NRT has had an impact on your day to day life? It’s had a big, big, ahh, how would you say... effect on me because I’ve learned how to balance everything with more focus on a day-to-day basis and keeping up with family and making sure they’re all good.

If you ever have kids, what have you learned through NRT that you will pass on to them? Try new things. Be creative. And just be you.

Sylas Nga Rangatahi Toa One Percent Collective 2.jpg

If you were prime minister, what would be your top 3 priorities? Coronavirus, poverty, and just letting everyone know to be yourself and be who you want to be.

Why is coronavirus a priority for you? Because even though I haven’t met or seen anyone that had coronavirus it’s still a serious pandemic. You can’t just risk those things.

Why is poverty a priority for you? Maybe coz my life wasn’t a ride in the park. It was more of a roller coaster going up and down all the time. Sometimes you just need someone that will be there to help you and support you in the ways you need.

Is poverty still a roller coaster for you? A little bit but I learned to cope.

When you talk about poverty, do you mean in terms of not having material things, or wealth, or emotions like love? How do you define poverty? My definition of poverty is, you’re sustained but not enough to think about the future. Like, ‘oh, is this gonna be there’ or ‘is this gonna harm me or help me?’ And the struggle is real but I think you just need to learn, or keep learning, so that in the future you can get a good job. I don’t want my kids to have the life I’ve had. I want it to be better.

If there was one thing you wanted everyone to know about NRT, what would it be? Be you.

As told to Huia O’Sulivan. Images by Emily Raftery.

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Education, creativity, and unconditional love are Ngā Rangatahi Toa’s secret sauce empowering our most vulnerable young people to achieve their hopes and dreams, and contribute fully to the future of New Zealand. Support Ngā Rangatahi Toa’s good work with your 1%.

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