From 27 September-3 October, 15 rakatahi participated in the Te Ara Whakatipu hīkoi to Whakatipu Waitai/Hollyford Valley/Martins Bay. Four of the rakatahi were from Te Rūnaka o Makaawhio.

The group completed a 21-kilometre walk into Martins Bay. Rakatahi do this spectacular path twice, walking in and out – a total of 42 kilometres. They also complete other bush walks around the area. Learning waiata/haka, mahika kai gathering and cooking were just a few of the other activities that kept our rakatahi amused (and tired).

On day one, the rakatahi were shy and quiet but after this five-day immersion programme, not only were they more comfortable with themselves, each other and all the staff, they also enjoyed the experiences away from modern technology.

We had beautiful weather for the first three days with a small hīkoi in the surrounding areas, harakeke weaving, and hīnaki building to mention a few activities but then it poured on day four. So, while on a bush walk, the staff made hot vegetable soup and fried bread, which was then delivered to a nearby Department of Conservation hut as a surprise morning tea.

On day five the weather eased off but everyone was still wet and cold for the walk out and by the time the rakatahi arrived in Te Anau they were shivering cold. After hot showers everyone settled down to enjoy their last night together.

We came home with many fantastic stories and photos to share. I would like to thank the organisers for giving me the opportunity to make this one of the most memorable learning experiences for me.

Lastly, a big mihi to the leader of this hīkoi, Kara Edwards and extended thanks to all those who supported the kaupapa, including Mike Talbolt, Paulette Tamati-Elliffe, Kāhu Edwards, Kyle Davis, Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka, Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio , Rachel Forsyth, Helen Rasmussen, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Hollyford Track.

I know all you wonderful rakatahi will do fabulous things going forward and I loved getting to know you all over the short period of time. Can’t wait to do it all again next year. Remember – life is all about opportunities.

People can register their interest in next year’s hīkoi by emailing [email protected]
Nā Rachael Forsyth.

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