National | Rangatahi

Poverty & youth big issues at Ratana

All eyes are on the politicians and what they say they'll do for the country, but what about the needs of the people of Ratana who host them year after year.

Key issues for those at Ratana Paa include poverty and the future of the youth.

Mother Rutu Watson says, "For the most of us we used to come here to heal, we brought our whānau here to heal and we haven't got that anymore because of poverty."

Entertainer Ricky Cribb says, “It’s about giving them a place to stand. Turangawaewae. “It's about them being strong in their mana, their wairua and their aroha.

“We've got a high suicide rate as we know so it's about giving our youth what we had as children because we didn't have the same problems back then."

The youth want to stub-out drugs, saying some turn to it as a means to alleviate the pinch of poverty.

Ngakiwa Haimona says it’s the main reason she moved to Australia.

"Most of my friends are dealing. They are earning an income from dealing to other youth as a means to feed their families."

Labour's Kiritapu Allan says she's listening to rangatahi on the ground.

"When we were young we used to populate these fields, all with Rangatahi Māori. There is less and less of our Rangatahi Māori coming now but the real karanga (call) I heard from our Ratana Paa Rangatahi yesterday is they want to see our young ones come back home."

Perenara Ririnui of Ratana says, "Can they fix everything? We'll see. Give them a bit of time, come next year we'll start asking the hard questions."

The people here say with Ratana's centennial year coinciding with a new government it is an opportunity to right past wrongs and brings progress to the people.