Rangatahi today grow up in a world that is uncertain, unpredictable, but more importantly unreliable. Combined with the fact that our day to day lives become increasingly virtual, Rangatahi are faced with navigating spaces that can significantly impact their vulnerability and hauora.

Toi Aro is a week-long programme for Rangatahi to enter a safe Māori-space, to cultivate a sense of identity, develop practical skills, and foster meaningful connections and proper mentorship.

Creativity is a fundamental part of what makes us human- whether it be art, music, or storytelling- without creativity our lives would be incredibly dull. The word toi implies that when something is created, such as snow turning into water to settle in a lake, or even a child being born, it goes through a series of processes before it comes to life. In Te Ao Māori, we know this as something tapu becoming noa- the sacred becoming of use to us. Toi Aro is one of those processes, the process of self-reflection. As Rangatahi grow up, they seek meaning about themselves and their identity, and many parents will agree that this can be one of the most challenging things to navigate the older their child gets.

Toi Aro is a period for Rangatahi to make sense of the identity they are constructing internally, externally. Exploring understandings of whakapapa, such as peers, mentors, friends and whānau who they look up to. Through this, Rangatahi can identify certain values and morals that are embedded in the relationships they consider important. For example, there may be a person in their life who they hold very close, this opens up aroha, whakapono, and mana.

Once an idea is ready, the mahi can begin. However, health and safety is of utmost importance at WCCT, which we prioritise before any kind of creative mahi begins. Over the five day period, our Kaiwhakairo practitioners work in close proximity to guide Rangatahi through creating a piece of mahi toi. Rangatahi learn the symbolism in Māori toi, incorporating not just colour and depth, but also the way toi encapsulates the important stories that have influenced artistic decisions and expression

At the end of the week, Rangatahi come together to present their toi to their wider whānau and rōpū. Upon completion, a certificate of completion is accompanied by the personal mana that went into the self-reflective process of Toi Aro.