Tuia mentoring programme builds 'life skills' - Maringi James

Maringi James (Ngāti Whakaue) is a young leader from Koutu who is keen to bring a different voice to the 2024 Tuia programme. 

This initiative pairs young Māori with local mayors for mentorship to cultivate leadership skills and community engagement. Te Tatau o Te Arawa rangatahi representative, Kahutapeka Ututaonga, is a previous Tuia alumni.

While she is currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Maringi says she applied for Tuia to learn more about her hometown and how Rotorua Lakes Council operates.

 “I feel the Tuia kaupapa has always had a heavy Rotorua presence. So, while I’ve been supported by our mayor and the council, getting a better understanding of the kaupapa through past Tuia reps and tuakana has been beneficial,” says Maringi.

For Maringi, the essence and success of Tuia lie in whakawhanaungatanga. She highlights the difficulty and the importance of learning to communicate and collaborate with both peers and council members.

 “It’s not easy to socialise with 60 random rangatahi you’ve just met. Nor is it any easier to socialise with a council you’ve just been introduced to. Learning how to speak to others, collaborate with others, and remain connected with people you may disagree with is a life skill that not many acquire,” she says.

Maringi says her advice to any Te Arawa rangatahi seeking to do Tuia is to be confident.

“Wānanga have a way of making rangatahi sit and act like adults for a weekend. However, it’s okay to be bored, and it’s okay to have a different opinion. The benefits lie in our differences,” says Maringi.

Juggling Tuia with her other commitments, such as university, Iwi kaupapa, and mahi, can be a struggle but Maringi is focused and determined to challenge the status quo.

“Most rangatahi wānanga have the same difficulties, and that’s just in trying to get us as rangatahi to fit into the mould and vision that has already been set. Often, you’ll find rangatahi at these wānanga who are happy to fit the mould.

“However, we need more mould breakers. We need all kinds of rangatahi to be part of kaupapa rangatahi,” says Maringi.