Whanau Orā News

Empowering leaders of tomorrow


With his unique background and skills, Paearahi Marcus Ridge says that developing empowered leaders of tomorrow is his biggest aspiration for the whānau he supports.

The Collective Impact Paearahi is First Nations (Cherokee/Navajo​/Hopi) from the United States and grew up in New Mexico.

I have been in this role for three months. My role before this was as a Residential Social Worker at STAND Children’s Services and before that I was a Youth Mentor at Te Waiariki Purea Trust,” he says.

His Paearahi role is multifaceted. It involves project planning, liaising with service providers outside and within the Te Arawa Whanau Ora Collective.

“We also engage with whanau and rangatahi to help them achieve their aspirations through their whanau plans,” Marcus says.

“I wanted to be a Paearahi to help people, to utilise my skills, background and experience as an indigenous college graduate.

“[I want our whānau to be] empowered leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and teaching of their ancestors to help make Rotorua and New Zealand a better place for generations to come.”

He and his wife, Katerina Pihera-Ridge (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaue and Czech) have a 2-year-old son Te Kānuka. They are both musicians having performed nationally and overseas.

Marcus works within the Collective Impact Te Arawa Whānau Ora team, Wai Warriors which focuses on co-designing activities with rangatahi (13 – 15 years). The aim is to support rangatahi to develop activities that build leadership in all capacities and ultimately, guardianship of water.

“I enjoy the cultural connections and how they are interwoven all throughout our mahi. The staff are also very hard working and care about the whanau they work with which is a great example of the manaakitanga and awhina here.”

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