Dunedin businesswoman Heidi Renata never forgets her roots when developing successful young leaders and entrepreneurs.
South Otago-born Chief Energy Officer and Curious Wahinepreneur launched the visionary INNOV8HQ company in 2015.
In 2020, her company developed the Mana Langatahi Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program for 18-24 year olds.
“It’s positive, just seeing the kids flourish,” she recalls.
One of those children is Leilani Te Wheoro, 19, who lives in Christchurch and has a weekly “zui” or Zoom hui with Heidi.
“I’m a pretty crazy, busy person and I’ve never felt this way about anything before,” says Leilani.
I have never felt a greater sense of belonging. I felt it was for me. “
After leaving school, she studied at the University of Canterbury last year, but decided not to return this year. She now works full time at a cafe.
Together with Heidi, Leilani is working on a personal branding booklet about her identity and personality.
This booklet covers her legacy, the power of her name, the whakapapa (lineage), influence, superpowers, personal mission, and life kete like a life map.
The teenager’s beautifully worded personal mission refers to meeting challenges, staying open-minded, and remembering her values and morals.
“They have been an important compass that guides me to where I am in life right now and what I believe makes me who I am,” she says.
Previously, the 19-year-old thought she knew her best, but working on the booklet gave her a deeper understanding.
Reading it cheers her up even on hard days.
Heidi is a descendant of Ngāpuhi, and her passion for Māori culture thrilled Leilani, who grew up ignorant of Māori traditions.
Leilani recommends Mana Rangatahi, stating that she can avoid the usual pressure of knowing what she wants to do outside of school.
“There’s no pressure. You have to figure out who you are before you think about what kind of job or influence you want to have.”
In 2021, the Otago Community Trust has awarded $300,000 to INNOV8HQ’s Mana Langatahi program, enabling it to expand from Dunedin to include Central, North and South Otago.
Three facilitators hold weekly workshops and instruction in Dunedin and towns such as Roxburgh, Alexandra and Oamaru. Some become local ambassadors and youth facilitators once young people complete his 12-week course.
“Regions don’t get this stuff, so they’re just wrapping it up,” says Heidi.
She adds that their location traditionally prevents access to such programs.
“Like all small towns, they tend to miss.”
Heidi grew up in Milton, South Otago, so she has a special understanding of rural towns.
$300,000 also contributed to the development of a digital app called Mana Rangatahi Kete. This is for course participants, but anyone can download it for free.
Its intuitive design supports learning environments for people with neurodiverse conditions such as autism, dyslexia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The app has audio to help you access information, and it’s bilingual, so it’s phonetic.
Heidi wrote the content and her brother Steve Renata’s KIWA Digital company digitized it.
They started it last year at Milton’s Tokomairiro High School.
“That’s our old school. It’s a cool way to celebrate that sort of thing.”
Since the pilot, 225 rangatahi (young people) have completed the program. The success rate of all participants he is more than 95%.
Within 12 weeks of starting the course, most participants are employed, started a startup, or are making money if enrolled in full-time study.
Their self-confidence has grown, and some have taken leadership positions across regions and countries.
Heidi says that the people working there are mostly in highly skilled roles.
“In front of Mana Rangatahi, a highly skilled role they might have never thought of.”
There are other success stories, she says.
One of our graduates has won an international award in her field and another is about to start a mental health startup.
Two alumni are currently serving on the board as directors of youth organizations.
We are tapped on the shoulder to see if there are any youngsters on board. “
Three alumni have been selected for the national Tuia program. In this program, the mayor encourages his leadership skills by mentoring the local Langatahi his Maori.
The Mana Rangatahi Group is 50% Maori, 30% Paakeha, 10% Pacifica and 10% New Zealand Cosmopolitan.
And they are in the hands of knowledgeable and hands-on hands as they learn to lead a business and take steps forward.
Heidi was named the 2022 Business Leader of the Year by the Otago Daily Times.
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For more information:
our previous story Featuring Ben Somerville, current Mana Rangatahi facilitator
https://dailyencourager.co.nz/young-leaders-flourishing/ Young Leaders in Action – Daily Encourager