Boxing academy gives young Māori chance for positive future

Widening inequality is influencing how young Māori think about their future.

New research shows those in poorer areas that lack facilities such as community centres or marae have a bleak outlook - but many are determined to make it anyway.

Students say before they started at the Naenae Boxing Academy they weren't motivated, but they are now.

"When I came to boxing it made me way more fit and my attitude was better," attendee Leonardo Semau told Newshub.

Researchers interviewing 100 young Māori across Aotearoa found many of those living in poor communities are anxious and fearful about their future.

The difference between those who see a positive future and those who don't is whether they have access to marae, community or youth centres where they can connect with supportive adults.

Victoria University Associate Professor Joanna Kidman says a hopeless outlook feeds inequality.

"We can't have an inclusive future if we're leaving some groups of young people behind," she said.

Naenae Boxing Academy coach Billy Graham says he sees a huge shift in the young people that attend the school.

"Kids have to have a place they can go to where they feel safe, they all feel safe here," he says.

In Titahi Bay in Porirua, Hineora Mike knows what it's like to do it tough. Having her son Te Amorangi when she was 14 made finishing school difficult, so she didn't.

"Seeing all my friends going off doing their stuff but knowing that could have been me, but I have to be home being a mum," she told Newshub.

The support of her family and her waka ama team was crucial to her decision to try to finish her high school education at 20.

"I want to get out there and work and feel more independent," she said.

Researchers will now bring experts and young people together to come up with ways to give young people places where they can be mentored and see themselves succeeding in life.