New Zealanders must face the bold truth in He Waka Roimata

South Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency says the clear statement of fact about the detrimental impact of colonisation and racism which impact on whānau Māori across generations is a powerful challenge to the nation.

“The name of the report, translating as  ‘A Vessel of Tears’ poignantly lays out the burden of grief, frustration, and disadvantage that whānau have experienced,” says Helen Leahy, Pouarahi of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

“We see in many of the whānau whom place trust in Whānau Ora Navigators, that these same themes penetrate their lives– that the impacts of colonisation and racism “are everyday experiences that undermine, disenfranchise and frequently conspire to trap them in the criminal justice system,” said Ms. Leahy.

“While the report describes this reality as ‘confronting and difficult’ for non-Māori to comprehend, the tragic injustice of system failure must not be ignored”.

The report outlines in startling clarity: “Many Māori described colonisation and its impact on them as an overwhelming trauma: a denial of voice, opportunity, and potential on an inter-generational scale: a loss of rangatiratanga, mana and dignity, stolen identity, stolen culture and language, stolen land and dispossession, a loss of place and for many disconnections from whakapapa” (p27).

“The series of system reports that have emerged over the last six months – including He Ara Oranga (inquiry into mental health and addiction); Whakamana Tangata (Welfare Reform) and Tipu Matoro ki te Ao (Whānau Ora) all set out a policy and political environment in which racism has been the constant presence.   Together these reports describe the effects of the colonisation project which has morphed into patronizing or ill-informed assumptions that privilege power,” said Ms. Leahy.

“The greatest response to this latest report, He Waka Roimata, would be for New Zealanders to give respect to the voice of whānau, to listen to the harm they have felt through being “unheard, misunderstood and re-victimised” and for our nation to take responsibility for our attitudes and actions which have led to such severe grief, hurt and anger for whānau members simply trying to get support”.

“Professor Sir Mason Durie (1999) stated that culturally responsive approaches are needed to counteract the devastating impacts of colonisation.   He Waka Roimata can indeed stand as a declaration of hope if we acknowledge that current trauma is an extension of historical trauma and that Māori themselves, can lead and shape the solutions we need”.

Link to the report:

About us: Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is a Commissioning Agency 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 Whānau Navigator roles to support and build whānau capability.   


Media Contact:
Ranae Niven, Senior Communications Advisor, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu
Mobile: +64 
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu,10 Show Place, CHRISTCHURCH,

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