Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, is a Commissioning Entity that works on behalf of the iwi in the South Island to support and enable whānau to create sustained social impact.  We do this by developing and investing in ideas and initiatives to improve outcomes for Māori, underpinned by whānau-centred principles and strategies, these include emergency preparedness and disaster recovery.  Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu also invests in Navigator roles to support and build whānau capability. 

We work to respond to whānau innovation, to foster and grow inspirational ideas that are whānau-centred, intergenerational, locally driven, and provide direct impact for whānau. Working alongside whānau to enable independent transformational change.

We represent a legal partnership of Nga Iwi o Te Waipounamu, the nine iwi of the South Island: Ngāi Tahu; Ngāti Rarua; Ngāti Tama; Ngāti Kuia; Ngāti Koata, Rangitane o Wairau, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā To; Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Atiawa. This unique initiative is the first time, ever, that the iwi have come together for a common cause to trailblaze a new model that reflects the aspirations of ngā iwi as they relate to whānau.

Our name represents the convergence of the rivers of Te Waipounamu, bringing sustenance to the people, and reflecting the partnership’s founding principle of whanaungatanga.



Whānau Ora is based on the belief that a healthy whānau is not reliant on indicators of deprivation but is instead driven by a belief in our own inherent wealth.

Our wellbeing is intimately tied to the concepts of caring – the application of manaakitanga, wairuatanga, ukaipotanga.

Our relationships encourage interdependence; we know that our strength comes through all of us taking up our roles and responsibilities to one another. It recognises the collective strength and capability of whānau to achieve better outcomes in areas such as health, education, housing, environment, employment and income levels.

 “There is evidence across the three evaluations that the whānau commissioning model is emancipatory and deeply rooted in a communitarian approach which emphasises compassion, social obligation and mutual determination. The social enterprises and innovations that have been successful demonstrate how whānau can work together to create a community of change leveraging resources, capabilities and cultural strengths”.

 Evaluation of Waves 4 and 5 Commissioning for Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu 2018 (page 6)
Catherine Savage, Wendy Dallas-Katoa, John Leonard and Letitia Goldsmith


Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu provides opportunities for whānau-led initiatives to receive investment through our ORA Funding Waves (Opportunity to Realise Aspirations). Our ORA funding is available to whānau initiatives that align to our seven Whānau Ora Pou and demonstrate engagement with whānau from a kaupapa Māori perspective.

As the South Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency the focus of our investment is to positively impact whānau living within Te Waipounamu.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu utilises a unique approach to commissioning outcomes for whānau across Te Waipounamu. Guided by the seven pou of the Whānau Ora Outcomes Framework, whānau develop initiatives that are whānau-centred and whānau-defined.

Supported by Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, whānau are empowered to fulfil their aspirations in the way that they envision. While the initiatives supported are diverse in their scope, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has identified three common impact areas across commissioned initiatives which are:

  1. Education and Skills
  2. Health and Wellbeing
  3. Culture and Identity

To guide our commissioning approach the following seven critical success factors for whānau enterprise have been identified:

1.     Strong social entrepreneurship and leaders

The initiatives that are most successful are those who had the ability to be flexible rather than fixed about ‘what works’;  and to learn quickly from their innovation as they went.

2.     Actively building their capability

Initiatives that are successful are involved in capability building activities, particularly around enterprise knowledge and marketing.    Those entities who attended our accelerator programme and had access to a whānau coach were better equipped to plan for the future.

3.     Creating and using their own network

Successful initiatives built a system of support around them including whānau, friends and community groups. Some of the initiatives utilised their networks to create a bridge between social services providers and whānau.

4.     Seeking opportunity for sustainability

Thriving initiatives were constantly seeking opportunities to build their resource capability.  For some initiatives, this meant seeking diverse funding activities or looking for opportunities to create a pathway that could create sustainable funding.

5.     Personally invested in the project

The whānau of effective initiatives were personally invested in their activity. They were prepared to work voluntarily, over and above; and were passionate about the work they were doing. In several cases, leaders had made personal sacrifices to ensure the initiative was successful.

6.     Clear about communicating the value they add

Successful initiatives were clear about their aspirations and goals and the value they added to whānau.

7.     Targeted to a particular area of need

Rather than offering a generalised support or service, the high-impact initiatives were able to identify exactly who was the whānau that they were working with and for.


Whānau Ora Navigators support whānau to be self-determining and navigate whānau to champion their aspirations.

Navigators work with whānau to:

  • support them through crisis and link them to the appropriate services

  • Collaborate, broker services and advocate ensuring their needs are addressed in a holistic way.

  • Help develop a step-by step plan to achieve their goals and aspirations.

  • Identify and strengthen support networks.

  • Reduce any risk of harm to whānau.

  • Uplift mana and create opportunities for cultural connectedness.

The Whānau Ora approach is unique because it:

  • Recognises a collective entity,

  • Endorses a group capacity for self-determination,

  • Has an inter-generational dynamic,

  • Is built on a Māori cultural foundation,

  • Asserts a positive role for whānau within society and

  • Can be applied across a wide range of social and economic sectors