At just 17, Hone Morris is already proving himself a leader in his community.

Hone is the youth chairman, youth co-ordinator and one of three event managers at Nga Rangatahi o Fordlands, the Fordlands Residents Group's youth hub.

A year ago Hone finished Level 1 NCEA and decided school no longer fitted him.

"School wasn't really for me, the things I wanted to do weren't in school. I was really, and still am, very community-minded. I want to help.


"Being brought up in a whanau that was related to gangs, I decided 'no, I don't want to be like that'."

When he was 12 Hone volunteered with Te Waiariki Purea Trust for four years and now he thrives in his three roles helping his own community.

"I look after rangatahi [youth] aged 13 to 24 and that includes showing them leadership roles in the community and event management skills.

"I also co-ordinate the programmes that come in for the youth."

He said they were currently focusing on the New Year.

"We have a computers in homes programme coming up with Nga Pumanawa e Waru education trust. Also we are looking for education for our rangatahi who are over 16.

"We are seeing a lot of positive changes, we want to see our rangatahi strive and become our leaders of the future."

Hone said his favourite things to come out of the youth hub was seeing "the whanau that were shy but now they come here, the kids that used to get bullied but now they get awhi-ed [cherished] by our rangatahi and they stand up for each other. The positive mindset that they have now, they actually want to go to school, they want education."


And when school didn't work out the group tried to find them other places, he said.

"Last week two of my rangatahi graduated from Toi Ohomai."

While the group's main focus for youth was education, he said it also had several other programmes for the wider community.

"We had a really successful food drive for Fordlands last week, we gathered over 700 food items, so we have a process now for whanau that are in need over the Christmas holidays."

On top of that, for Christmas he has helped organise a hangi which means the whanau of Fordlands can grab a meal on Christmas Day.

Hone said he was happy where he was and was looking forward to bettering his community and himself as he looked to complete Level 2 NCEA next year.

Nga Pumanawa e Waru community engagement facilitator Russell Harrison said he went to see Hone to discuss different ways of making education available for youth.

"I was told to go see Hone and when I met him I thought I was meeting with the PA of the guy I was supposed to see, then the more I talked to him I realised he was the guy.

"The thing that blows me away is that we are constantly struggling with how to help our youth and here is a young man who is helping himself and others as well.

"He was a bright light the moment I saw him and it really encouraged me about the direction of our community seeing a young man like him."