Whaiora, 23, is the proud parent of a beautiful one-year-old and is a student in her final year of her Bachelor of Arts at Massey University, majoring in Media Studies. She is an advocate for mental health awareness, suicide prevention and animals (she works alongside her local SPCA). She is passionate about helping those who are less fortunate, especially youth.
She joined Inspiring Stories Future Leaders Programme so she could find pragmatic solutions to address the lack of support and resources for youth, as well as many of the other issues facing her community.
Our community is full of awesome and inspiring New Zealanders, so we thought why not showcase some more awesomeness with you all?! Your stories, experiences, and ideas are what adds fuel to anything we can create on our own. We decided to ask Whaiora a few questions..
How did you get engaged with Inspiring Stories?
Well to begin with I signed up to be a Future Leader for my community, Kawerau. Future Leaders is founded by Inspiring Stories.
How did you hear about the Future Leaders programme and why did you sign up to become a part of it?
The Kawerau Future Leaders coach, Marlena Martin, is actually a really good friend of mine. We studied at the polytech in Rotorua together in 2013-2014. She messaged me on Facebook one day, and suggested I sign up for Future Leaders as I have already done a lot of advocacy work for mental health awareness. Plus I have a passion for helping the youth through their struggles, and I always make that known. So in April I signed up and received an email that I was offered a spot on the programme.
What was your highlight of Festival for the Future?
To be honest, I loved the whole experience! Meeting the rest of the crews from across New Zealand and making bonds; getting out of Kawerau for a break (it was my first time in Wellington too!); our accommodation where we were staying at the YHA; and just the whole Festival experience! However, the most top notch one would have been when I spoke on stage at the child poverty panel on the Saturday. I was shit scared minutes beforehand, I broke down in tears backstage. However, with the support from Andrew and the other panellists and my Kawerau crew, I conquered my inner demons who tried to hold me back. I can't express how thankful I was for the huge support I received from the Ktown Future Leaders crew and my amazing partner Jeff, as they each stood in front of that stage with me as I spoke for myself; for each of them; for my daughter and mum Sarah, and for my hometown: Kawerau. OUR YOUTH ARE THE FUTURE, and our Kawerau youth definitely made their presence known in the big capital. They all received so much positive feedback and I'm so stoked for each of them.
What are you most passionate about and what are you doing with your passion?
I'm passionate about helping young people through times of distress. When I was young, I had poor mental health, my self-esteem was low, my confidence was non-existent, and I had no love for myself. My mentality is no longer like that now. But I know a lot of young people are going through that today. My experiences have made me more compassionate and empathetic. So I now use my experiences to help the youth of my community. I go out into Kawerau and talk with businesses to made a sort of deal to help the youth find employment. I also help motivate the youth to use their skills to make a difference in our community. Kawerau has so much untapped talent, and our town is forever being ridiculed in the media. So I want to change that. And I believe our youth has the power to do just that. They're our future, so their voices matter the most.
Any top tips/words of wisdom?
I live by the quote: storms don't last forever, they eventually pass and when they do it becomes much more brighter.
In other words, if your life at the moment is shit, it won't be forever. Just keep going.