Whānau and kaumātua drive their own aging and wellbeing strategies

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is focused on planning ahead for the demographic impacts that are evident across the populations; including the interesting trend that Māori are increasing in number at a faster rate than other population age groups.

“It is such a joyful phenomenon amongst whānau to have expanding opportunities to celebrate 80th birthdays, even 100-year-old birthdays – to cherish our whānau members at every stage of their lives, but even more so for our kuia and koroua, taua and pōua,” said Helen Leahy, Pouārahi of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

Although youthful, the Māori population is also aging, due to a combination of increasing life expectancy and decreasing birth rates. Both the proportion and the numbers of older Māori will increase significantly over the next twenty to thirty years.

During this time, kaumatua will be confronted by many changes, including changes to whanau structures, the provision of health care, and the way in which government agencies provide for them.

“Whānau are telling us there are better ways to meet some of the wellbeing needs of kaumātua, and that is essentially where a Whānau Ora approach can be so effective.”

“We’re seeing the enormous impact, it shows on the faces of our kaumātua who are having the opportunity to take part in community-driven initiatives. So far we’ve been able to invest in a number of kaumātua wellbeing health days in Dunedin, Invercargill and Christchurch.

Te Roopu Tautoko ki Te Tonga in Otepoti have created a kaupapa of “Mana Atua, Mana Tangata, Mana Whenua” which is proving so popular they are having to turn kaumātua away.

In some of our regions we are also seeing the emergence of specialist kaumātua Navigators. In both Wairau and Waitaha, the role of a specialist kaumātua is to enable all our whānau to be connected to kaumātua needs; to focus on initiatives which can improve their quality of life and increase access to services.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu submits that there needs to be stronger prominence placed on the need for culturally competent and responsive approaches to the health of older people. Māori are currently underrepresented as users of aged residential care (Statistics New Zealand; 1996, 2000).

However, as the demand for such care continues to grow, changing population trends, burgeoning numbers of older Māori, and decreasing family size suggest that aged residential care will increasingly be considered by Māori in the future. Therefore, it is vitally important to develop a kaupapa Māori model of care and responsive health services for older people.

Links to Whānau Ora Initiatives for kaumātua:

Ngāti Tama Kaumātua Health Day

Te Roopu ki Te Tonga

Murihiku Kaumātua Health Day

Tuahiwi, Taumutu and Rehua Marae- Kaumātua Health Day Rehua Marae Kaumātua Health Day

*Healthy Day at the Pā are scheduled for 28 June at Tuahiwi Marae / 3 July at Leeston Hall, Ōtautahi (Canterbury)

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 Navigator roles to support and build whānau capability.

Media Contact: Helen Leahy, Pouarahi, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu,Mobile: 021-881-031, Email: Helen.Leahy@teputahitanga.org 10 Show Place, CHRISTCHURCH, www.teputahitanga.org

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