The Breakaway Holiday Programme is a week-long initiative for 9 – 14 year olds from Maraenui and Napier South that Birthright has run each January. Additional activities like barbeques and leadership courses often followed in subsequent school holidays.
It has been a hugely worthwhile community holiday programme that Birthright has run in collaboration with Te Kupenga Hauora – Ahuriri over the past three years.
The focus for participants was on fun, physical activities, caring for the environment and confidence-building. It was based in Maraenui Bilingual School, which made it accessible for many families. Their young people were taken on trips where they were given the opportunity to experience activities that many of them never had before.
Beach cleans encouraged an awareness of caring for our environment, while confidence was built through learning about water safety and creative art projects. Other activities included a visit to the Petting Zoo in Haumoana. That was a new experience for many young people, who found it calming and linked back to the concept of caring for nature.
Youth Team Leader, Stacey Rout, says that talent quests were also popular because participants were able to showcase their individual skills and talents, focusing on something that was of interest to them.
Birthright partnered with Te Kupenga Hauora-Ahuriri, who helped by both volunteering staff and connecting clients and whanau to the programme. This had the added benefit of bringing a collaborative approach and a Kaupapa Maori influence, especially to the art projects and story-telling.
“A group favourite was learning about kia hika ahi or traditional Maori fire lighting methods. We all found that really interesting. We learnt that Mahoe wood was the specific wood used, and heard about how tangata whenua once lived. Everyone wanted a turn at trying to start the fire. We were also told the story of Bluff Hill and Pania”, Stacey says.
Stacey says that the best thing about Breakaway Holiday was the long-term engagement with young people, some of whom came every year. It was heartening to see many new faces too. She valued the connections made with wider whanau and felt privileged that they wanted her team to look after their young people and even encouraged ongoing involvement.