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Whanganui River Journey

21 January 2004

Whanganui River Journey

January 25 marks the beginning of the 10th annual Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Whanganui River Journey.

For four days ten blind and vision impaired teenagers aged 14-17 will spend time in wakas (canoes) exploring the river, learning about its history, its wairua (spirit) and, most importantly, about themselves.

Hosted by the tangata whenua, the students will be introduced to and experience traditional Maori culture, while challenging their vision impairments. They will also learn the skill of canoe paddling and develop self care skills and independence.

“It can be a life changing experience for the students,” says Marina Hanger, RNZFB Recreation Advisor & Peer Support Co-ordinator and 2005 journey organiser.

“They gain confidence and develop an inner strength they’ve never seen before. The river and its people work magic every year.”

The journey aims to help the students to: Positively meet a broad range of challenges (physical, emotional, social) Realise their potential not their limitations Prepare them for competitive employment Prepare them for continued education Communicate to a large audience Enhance existing rehabilitation skills Socialise with people from different backgrounds Work co-operatively Raise awareness of Maori culture

The students will be accompanied by 10 RNZFB support staff and five invited guest who participated in the first journey. The group will be spread over six wakas.

Day 1 (January 25) The journey begins with the group meeting at Raetihi. Day 2 (January 26) The group moves to Whakahoro (edge of the river) for waka orientation and a workshop. Day 3 (January 27) Paddling begins down the river to Mangapapapa Marae (87kms covered) Day 4 (January 28)

Paddling to Mangapurua for lunch and to walk the Bridge to Nowhere. Staying at Tieke Marae. Day 5 (January 29)

The journey ends at Pipriki where the group heads to Otoko Marae for the final night and the 10th anniversary celebrations. Former participants and their families join the celebrations.

ENDS

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