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The girls of Whakatupu Tētēkura roopu are pulling out all the stops for an exciting fundraising market. It is their first foray into event planning, and developing the skills they will eventually use to plan a cultural exchange to Rarotonga. Photo: SUPPLIED

Black Fern to pop in to pop-up market day

Sports fans will have the chance to meet Black Fern superstar Katelyn Vaha’akolo in Thames this weekend, at the Whakatupu Tētēkura pop-up market. 

The carpark by Ngāti Maru Rūnanga on Queen St will be transformed with food trucks, stalls and entertainment – and of course, a guest appearance by the recently-named World Rugby Women’s 15s breakthrough player of the year. 

Katelyn is just one of the reasons to visit the pop-up market, conceived and organised entirely by the Whakatupu Tētēkura roopu [group]. 

The roopu is a three-year marae-based programme beginning in year eight, which nurtures and mentors a group of rangatahi [youths] closely until the end of year 11. 

The name of the group means “raising young warriors”, and co-ordinators Tina Paki and Ro Mitchell-Te Teira said their aim was to help their members develop confidence, leadership skills and friendships in a safe space whilst navigating the often tricky transition to secondary school. 

“It’s connecting them back to their marae, their iwi, their whenua, their moana, their awa,” Tina said. 

“It creates an identity for them as well before going into high school. And it was really beautiful to watch last year when we had our orientation, and our girls in our first year eight roopu all gravitated towards each other.” 

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This weekend’s market was planned by the group’s current year nines to raise funds for a cultural exchange to Rarotonga at the end of their programme.  

It’s their first major fundraiser and an opportunity to practise their organisational skills. 

“They have to organise everything [for the exchange]. When we say everything: passports, travel, itinerary, flights, the whole lot,” Tina said. 

Along with Katelyn, the roopu have also hired DJ Kiwi Beats, another of Thames’ rangatahi, to spin some tunes. And there will be plenty to entertain the whole whanau, with mussel fritters, face painting, candyfloss, a white elephant stall and much more. 

“[It’s] for rangatahi, by rangatahi,” Ro said. 

“We are big about giving our rangatahi opportunities. And Katelyn is a massive drawcard … that’s also about giving our rangatahi opportunities to meet someone that’s a role model, someone to aspire to.” 

Details: Pop-up market, December 2, 9am-2pm at the Ngāti Maru Ruranga carpark, 111 Queen St.