“Mai te whei āo, i te āo mārama, ki te āo taketake, Tīhei Mauri Ora”

Rangipare Belshaw-Ngaropo, 23, along with 12 other rangatahi from across Aotearoa have represented the marae, hapū, iwi and motu whānui at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. The theme for this forum was: “Indigenous peoples collective rights to lands, territories and resources.”

The journey for this Maniapoto uri began with a video application process. An overwhelming 300+ applicants submitted a two-minute kiriata application with a time frame of 48 hours. Hand-picked by former New Zealander of the year Dr Lance O’Sullivan and the Moko Foundation, Rangipare secured a position in a group of 13, which would later be known as, He Kuaka Mārangaranga.

“It was such a surprise but seeing the high calibre of applicants I knew regardless of the outcome rangatahi Māori would be represented well” Rangipare admits.

Rangipare (Ngāti Apakura, Pūrekireki Marae) recently reconnected with her Maniapoto whakapapa. In 2017 she made a personal commitment to further her understanding of her Maniapoto identity through attending Maniapoto Reo Wānanga and the Tūrongo, Māhingaarangi Summit. Her participation and engagement in kaupapa influenced Dr Lance O’Sullivan’s decision with selection.

Rangipare shares stories about trying the traditional NY pizza, marveling at the bright lights of broadway and Lion King. Though Rangipare asserts that what truly moved her was nurturing meaningful relationships with the diverse personalities of He Kuaka Mārangaranga, Papatuanuku Nahi, and Dr Lance and Tracy O’Sullivan.

“Because of the big personalities I was curious with how our tira would connect, but everything was so fluid, we fell into our roles organically, it was kind of perfect.” Rangipare adds. The different backgrounds within He Kuaka complimented each other, they really drove their message home with the audience. The kōrero He Kuaka Mārangaranga shared encouraged hope and inspired other indigenous whānau to spark change within their own respective communities.

For the rangathi side event, He Kuaka Mārangaranga spoke to 4 key kaupapa; the rights of Papatūānuku as a living entity, constitutional transformation, Mātauranga Māori and Hauora.

“Prior to our side event, we had the privilege of presenting kaupapa to The Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, she then invited a follow up report so there may potential for the nawe of He Kuaka Maarangaranga to be assessed. It was heartwarming and extremely encouraging to see the potential of 12 like minded rangatahi who are passionate about mobilising indigenous solutions for Aotearoa. It makes me so optimistic about the future and our collective endeavours.”

The future is looking bright for these rangatahi  who embrace education and their cultural identity as a respected power that can never be taken away.