HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spands 5 minutes with ... Cherith Vaha'akolo
The current climate of our Cook Islands youth is as volatile as the very Pacific Rim that we border and judging from the number of forums and discussions we’re a bit of a hot topic that slides up and down on the Richter scale of our society. However amongst us, there are definitely those who are searching for answers to the issues of our youth and to address them with “sustainable” solutions suggests Cherith Vaha’akolo of New Zealand Maori/European stock who has been in the Cook Islands for the past five weeks sharing her views with the her contemporaries on ways to help shape our susceptible youth.  Vaha’akolo who has been invited to Rarotonga by a group in a faith community here, to see if she would assist in ideas to reach young people and is almost at the end of her seven week tenure here, shares some of her ideas with the Cook Islands herald.
If youth are the very shares and bonds of our ‘societal stock market’ that determine our development and forward movement as a populace, then the market has never looked hotter or more profitable than this opportunity to invest, and I feel I’m not alone in this notion. Development is a work in progress and after talking with Cherith Vaha’akolo I feel like we’re on the same page, “where’s the culture?” she asks me, “where’s the ukareres with the music?” then she said something that resonated deep inside and left me reeling for days to follow, “you know Maria,” she says piercing me with her stare, “people want to be a part of the cause.” “Absolutely” I nod agreeing, like attracts like and if we approach our issues in the same likeness, then Cherith does raise a very bold and compelling point people absolutely want to be a part of something great, void of our societal or cultural differences they want to be reassured that their place in the world is as valid as the next person and that they contribute to something larger than themselves, contrary to the common belief that most teenagers are unashamedly self absorbed.
‘Yes, says Cherith, “youth can be all about themselves, they are mostly loyal to the beliefs that serve them on any given day and their mates at school are more influential than home and the church – but they are also glorious, beautiful and hoping like crazy that we who are older and more mature, will see their potential, their value and especially their needs and lead them in a way that inspires them to follow”.
Sitting under the eaves of the fishing club on a blustery Thursday afternoon Cherith is as easy and breezy to talk to as the they come and brushes against the nerves of a few of our very own home truths, “what do young people do around here?” she asks me, probably the wrong person to paint the most ideal picture of the way we truly divide our time and only further confirming what most people already know, not much. If it’s evident to one than we could also argue that that very impression is felt by others, the increasing rate at which our workforce readily relocate overseas only further implies that insight. Honoring your (or ones) vairua is another poignant theme that features highly for the New Zealand Maori Cherith, to feed and develop our health and wellbeing so to encourage our (or ones) growth is a theme that straddles very closely the founding values of our Cook Island heritage.
Cherith sees that results can come more quickly that she thinks people might believe.  “We are running around a bit, genuinely trying to create programmes for young people. Young people might be on facebook, mobiles and their iPods all day, but they would put all of that aside in a heartbeat if they thought there was an adult/s that truly saw the, heard their dreams, ideas and took the time to see if they could do something about that.  Young people subscribe to people – to people who deeply connect with them - so our goal is sourcing the right people to reach our young people and then they will truly inspire and influence one another to make choices that set them up to lead a life of hope, of faith and of economically viability.  The time to talk is over – the time to move, groove and impact our young people is on us, Does Cherith know how we can to do this I ask. ‘Too right Maria”, she says with a twinkle in her eye. .  I think she might be onto something. -Maria Tanner

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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