Te Arawa Journey is an outdoor pursuits and life skills journey open to all rangatahi aged 10 to 15. The programmes for boys and girls are separate.
It is run by Te Waiariki Purea Charitable Trust and retraces the footprints of Tamatekapua, Ngatoroirangi and Ihenga, chiefs of the Te Arawa waka.
Te Waiariki Purea Trust events and activities team leader Kelley Korau said the programme was completed in six consecutive weekends.
Ms Korau said the programme included participants learning history, learning about themselves and their whakapapa, respect and working with others.
She said the youth were also challenged with working in the outdoors, such as making their own nets to catch kai and doing walks, including Rainbow Mountain.
Ms Korau said the programme was also about finding leaders amongst these young people, and it was a no-bullying environment.
The youth also had goals which they worked on throughout the programme. "So it's really about finding out about oneself."
Te Arawa Journey co-ordinator Te Puia Williams said on one recent weekend the group went paddling in Taupo, from Acacia Bay to Mine Bay with Maori rock carvings.
It [the programme] brings them back to their roots and us telling the stories of our tupuna helps them follow their path."
Boston Tuhakaraina, 13, said he liked meeting new people, learning about ancestors and travelling. "It's actually funner than just playing on phones."
He said one of the best things so far was overcoming fears, like jumping off rocks into lakes.
Jamie Tuhakaraina, 12, said one of the best things so far had been meeting people, as the other boys were "funny and cool, and easy to get to know".
The youths' whanau are invited to a gathering at the end of the programme to celebrate the successes of their children.
Ms Korau said she thought it was a great programme for young people to get involved in.
We teach them about caring for the land and waterways, and themselves."
Ms Korau said the next programme in March would be for girls.
- by Shauni James, Rotorua Daily Post