If you can dream it, you CAN do it! It is possible whanau, I promise you, whatever it is, the hardest part is believing in yourself, in your dream and getting a village to back you up!
How do I know, how can I be so sure? Cause whanau, I've done the hard yards. Many of us have, I've jumped from countries and homes all my life, I've lived in overcrowded homes to no home at all, I've had too many friends to count to barely any at all, yet I made it! (Whoop whoop.)
I'm living my best life every day, doing something I love, with people who are supportive and passionate, and around all my whanau, never without aroha (love), kai (food) and korero (conversations).
So many dreams and goals I've set and smashed, some dreams are so big, yet I keep on dreaming, writing it down, telling people my visions in the hope that one day it will become a reality.
Once upon a time, the life I live now was all I wanted and I am so grateful for those who've enabled me and empowered me to be living a life with purpose. But this is only the beginning, and I can't wait to see more of us young people sitting at the table, making the decisions, advocating for one another, and speaking up for ourselves, our beliefs and our visions for a better Aotearoa, together.
No one should feel uncomfortable in a space that's "for all". How do we make sure we think about Māori, disability, ethnic cultures, takatāpui (LGBTQIA+) and other groups for our whanau to be a part of. Making sure the spaces that we create for our community are inclusive of us all is paramount, and we must get it right.
Powerful mahi (work) must be done to ensure we honour our past as a country, reflect on our present and dream a better future for all our tamariki (children).
Aotearoa is "the friendliest country" many of our cuzzies around the globe reckon, and that stems from Te Aō Māori views like, but not at all limited to, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kotahitanga, maramatanga. I have chosen to not translate these expressions as the essence of these words cannot be so easily described to give mana to these kupu (words).
When someone needs help, we help, when someone is crying, we go and check on them, when someone has dropped something, we pick it up... Now some of us may believe this is just "common sense" but it's not, sadly.
This is NOT common knowledge around the globe, so why is it so common here? Tangata whenua das why embedding this culture into the DNA of what it means to be a Kiwi (bird; yes this is a Māori word).
Too often I've shortened my name in respect of others comfortability from the beautiful Anahera (Angel) to Ana (cave). This used to frustrate my Nan, and until recently I never understood why, until last weekend when I heard this beautiful whakaaro at Festival for the Future, "your name sets you on your journey, when you change your name, you change your pathway".
Some of you may not understand that or agree with it, some may think that it is silly, but I know many of us who have chosen an "alter-ego" and even nickname ourselves.
In respect of my beautiful Nan, who we lost recently, from now on its Anahera. Take the time to ensure your pronunciation is correct, it's so important.
Place names are the same. Streaming all over my social media feeds are posts regarding Te Reo Māori which is one of the official languages of NZ along with NZSL. I read comments with suggestions of our language being "rammed" or "forced" on people.
I am sympathetic and respectful towards our whanau who do not wish to grow with us and be a part of this haerenga (journey) because in my grandparents' time their culture was suppressed and they would get beaten in classrooms for speaking their language.
Frequently I've read posts saying Te Reo Maori Is a dying language or not useful around the world. But I believe that Te Reo Māori is just the beginning to help enable us all to see this world through a Te Aō lens, for us to better understand how we can live in this world.
I think if we could all see the world through these eyes, the world would be at peace.
• Anahera Pickering is community outreach co-ordinator at Whangārei Youth Space. She can be contacted at Anahera@youthspace.co.nz .