Rangi Ahipene




Kia ora, my name is Rangi Ahipene.  I am a happily married father of five.  I am currently the Youth Services Manager for Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust for whom I’ve been working 9 years. 

Working with youth particularly “youth at risk” is my specialty.  I have been working in this field for 15 years.  It began with 2 years for a private training establishment working MSD contracts with youth.  I then worked for the YMCA for a year running the Cons Corp and Sysco programmes before working for another PTE for 3 years as an alternative education tutor, 2 years of which were at the “Black Stump” facility.  I then left and did a year with the Kiwi Can programme before being approached by Te Tuinga Whanau.

I would have to say that it is the applied knowledge derived from my experience and skills developed over the last 15 years, that has largely contributed to the consistent successful outcomes we enjoy. 

The successful approach can be largely summed up in the following paragraph.  The whole approach is Maori based, however please note that although it is termed Maori it is in fact a universal set of principles and values which have worked just as well with non-Maori youth as with Maori youth.  Upon this foundation is set some key principles, one of the most important is the ability to develop quickly a meaningful relationship with a young person underpinned by neutrality, trust, non-judgement and consistency.  How we engage with youth is to undertake meaningful activities that are practical based, some examples of these have been fishing (contemporary and traditional), traditional hunting tool making and hunting activity with spears, snares, dart thrower, slings and bow and arrows.  Also, other ancient technologies such as fire by friction and stone knapping.  This by no means is an exhaustive list of activities undertaken.  The idea is to engage them first in the activity to a level where they can be successful and then follow through with the knowledge that connects them to this heritage such as whakapapa (genealogy) and legends and stories.

A couple of working models that frame this are “The Bird in the Tree Model” and “The Crayfish Model”.  The first model is made up of two parts, firstly, the tree which represents the idea of re-connecting the young person to their heritage and community, secondly, the bird, specifically the wings, meaning that the young person’s natural talents be identified and fostered.  The Crayfish model is based upon how crayfish shed their shell, which is a process that starts from the inside out.  When applied to young people at risk, it alludes to the fact that it is so hard to effect change from the outside in and that real meaningful change comes from within from the young person themselves.  So therefore, we undertake a safe specifically selected activity that encourages internal growth leading to the young person growing out of their previous negative context.

Please note that this is just a quick glimpse of what we do to make a positive difference in young people’s lives and there is much more that goes in to it.  We have for several years now, enjoyed upwards of 85% success consistently and we are always looking to maintain and improve our programme.