Regional | NASA

From Ōtara to infinity and beyond

A group of South Auckland students are heading to the US to study space exploration. With the support of the Ōtara Youth Hub, 16 cadets will head to the Space Flight Center in Alabama as part of a global space camp with other youth from around the world.

Two cadets, Nevaeh Tawhi-Marsters and Ihapera Martin Waru, are looking forward to the opportunity to not only represent themselves in America but also their community.

“Taking Ōtara to NASA means giving our young people the opportunity to experience these experiences. We come from a community that's faced with adversity every day. And I feel like if we're given these opportunities, we'll take it and run with it,” Tawhi-Marsters says.

Martin Waru says, “The sky is not the limit if there are already footprints on the moon.”

This group of rangatahi will learn about space exploration and the trials and tests astronauts are put through.

But, although they're excited, there is still work to do.

Once in a lifetime

Eighteen-year-old Ihapera Martin Waru from Ngāpuhi says what she is looking to do during her trip is gain knowledge for her whānau back home.

“How is this going to benefit my hood? How is this going to benefit my community? And I guess that's the question that's going to stick with me when I go to Alabama,” she says.

The trip is supported by the Ōtara Youth Hub, and each cadet needs to raise $5000 to go on the trip. They have already been part-funded by  Spark, Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi, Te Puni Kōkiri and more.

However, when these cadets heard that they were heading overseas, it was a dream come true, for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For Nadeen Papali’i the idea of returning to the programme to chaperone these young Otara locals was the realisation there was more for the kids of Otara beyond their community.

Ōtara to the moon

She says, “This opportunity speaks to an example because there are many more to come. And it means our young people will be exposed to not only what the world has to offer but also what they have to offer the world.”

Tawhi-Marstersand Martin Waruit says it is taking their community overseas but also showing what they are capable of.

“I think it's taking Otara to the world, taking Otara to the moon, taking our community with us. Heaps of people have made this trip possible, and I think when we go to space camp we're going to acknowledge them, and thank them for making it happen for us,” Tawhi-Marsters says.

Martin Waru says, “I want to send people to space, I want to help send people to space now - that's what I want to do.”

The cadets have set up a Givealittle page to help them reach the $80,000 total cost for the trip. They leave on August 25.