#MightyWomanMonday: Te Aho Jordan
Combining mentoring and photography to empower the youth of Ōpōtiki and beyond
Te Aho Jordan works as a youth mentor in her sunny eastern Bay of Plenty hometown, Ōpōtiki. In this role, she strives to encourage change for the youth of Ōpōtiki, within all aspects of their lives. Whether it be helping them find work or furthering their studies, Te Aho supports youth on their journey towards being the best version of themselves that they can be. This is highly commendable mahi, as a lot of young people leave school early in Ōpōtiki and many youth are afraid of the change that is often needed to get on the right track.
In her spare time, Te Aho can be found enjoying long walks at the beach, which is not surprising due to the beautiful options available in her hometown. She also enjoys playing our national sport - rugby, and gyming. Te Aho relaxes by watching anime and spending time with her partner, 15 year old sister, and cat!
We were super excited to hear more about Te Aho, her passions and achievements, and were honoured to have her share these with us!
What are the top three must-do activities in Ōpōtiki?
1. Walk the Onekawa Pā track, it’s a wonderful view at the top of the hill - overlooking Ohiwa Harbour.
2. Swing off the rope swings at the Ōpōtiki Wharf!
3. Run or bike the Motu Dune Trails.
You work closely with youth in Ōpōtiki; what is it that you are passionate about helping them with?
I love helping young people recognise how amazing and impactful they are. Watching them change from a shy, withdrawn person to a confident and powerful young adult is always the best part about my involvement with youth work.
You also run A not-for-profit photography service. Could you tell us a little more about this?
The media conditions many young girls and women to think they are not beautiful because they don’t look like the women in magazines, advertisements and social media.
I started taking young women I knew through photo sessions to help boost their confidence in front of a camera and to provide them with portraits of themselves to admire and celebrate. I have worked with some women who also used these photos to start a portfolio.
You helped establish a youth council in Ōpōtiki - this is a big achievement! What do you hope this council will achieve and change for the youth of Ōpōtiki?
I did try and get it started but, unfortunately, our Youth Council traction stopped shortly after our efforts to establish one. I definitely plan to gain momentum again in the future, but I’m pretty confident that our local Future Leaders group will do awesome things in its place for now. I would also like to give a massive shoutout to Kaea and her team for keeping up the hard mahi!
What have been some hurdles you’ve faced through trying to create change as a young woman?
Constantly being underestimated and feeling the pressure of trying to present myself as a strong and responsible woman all the time. There were, and still are, times when I felt vulnerable, scared and tired but it felt wrong to show that.
Has anyone guided or supported you so far? Can you share who and how they’ve helped you?
I’ve had four mother-figures, in my late teenage life, teach me so many different things. Your adolescent years are a really impressionable time, so I’m grateful that I could learn from them during that period. This was especially important for me as I had just left home and was going through a tough time, I had no solid place to stay and I don’t think I would’ve made it through the year if I didn’t have those women to go to.
Lastly, do you have any favourite quotes, proverbs or words of wisdom that you would like to share with the young women of Aotearoa?
“In your long line of tupuna, you are the latest edition”
- Grace Rihari (An inspirational wahine I got to meet at an awesome wānanga).
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