Te Toa Matataki youth home launch
Tears were shed and there were plenty of laughs at the official opening of Te Toa Matataki, an Oranga Tamariki-funded home south of Rotorua for youth justice young people on remand.
The official opening of Te Toa Matataki
The home is the brainchild of Chantelle Walker (pictured left, with CE Gráinne Moss), a former youth justice social worker at Oranga Tamariki, and was officially opened earlier this month.
A small contingent of children from the Western Heights primary school in Rotorua performed waiata at the event at Tarewa Pounamu in Rotorua which was attended by around 80 people.
The launch was attended by Chief Executive Gráinne Moss, DCE Youth Justice Services Allan Boreham, DCE Services for Children and Families North Glynis Sandland, Bay of Plenty Regional Manager Tayelva Petley and other representatives from Oranga Tamariki and the community.
Powhiri and tributes
Following a pōwhiri and sumptuous spread, a number of speakers addressed the crowd, including Chantelle, Gráinne, Allan and Bay of Plenty Youth Justice manager Melissa Richards.
All paid tribute to the vision and tenacity of Chantelle, who has never lost sight of her dream of opening the home.
Rangatahi share their views
Two young people from the home also took to the stage, with one reciting his pepeha and welcoming the crowd while the other stood by in support.
This was quite an achievement by the rangatahi, and was thoroughly appreciated by the audience. When spoken to afterwards, both young men spoke positively about the experience of being at the home.
One said he was feeling physically better without all the drugs and alcohol in his system, while the other said it was good being so far out in the country because he couldn’t get into his "usual trouble".
Only the beginning
There is plenty of potential for development – Chantelle has big plans for a barn on the property, including installing a gym and a workshop.
With chooks and pigs, a gully and bush to roam in and staff available around the clock, this 2.4 hectare piece of paradise will no doubt be a life-changing landmark for the rangatahi who come through its doors.
This is just the beginning of the story for Te Toa Matataki.
Watch the story on Māori Television - coverage starts at 3.03 minutes in