Māori Women in Whānau Enterprise Leading Social Change

It has come as no surprise to the South Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency to see three successful whānau entities have been named as the three finalists in the Te Waipounamu category for the 2019 Māori Women in Business Awards. Waka Abel Tasman (Motueka), Koha Kai (Invercargill), RCG Group Limited (Christchurch) are all in the running for the awards which are being held on 19 October at Te Puia in Rotorua.

The Commissioning Agency is a partnership of the nine iwi of Te Waipounamu aimed at providing opportunities for whānau to work together to enable independent transformational change and these three whānau enterprises are doing just that and more.

Helen Leahy, Pouārahi says, “We invest in whānau, entrepreneurs, non-profit and social enterprises who harness the spirit of Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga and dare to create change. These three women have been motivated by the momentum of a whānau dream to make an impact in cultural tourism, in working with people with disabilities; in promoting healthy lifestyles; and pursuing the ideal of rangatiratanga / self-determination.”

Board Chair, Tā Mark Solomon says, “We know that in every whānau there are ideas, solutions, aspirations and dreams and these three wahine toa have stepped up with their whānau to change the game. Janice Lee, Cate Grace and Lee-anne Jago are harnessing the flourishing potential in their respective communities. By investing in these Whānau Ora based initiatives, whānau are leading social change and this leads onto successful life outcomes that impacts positively across their regions. Since 2015, there have been ten Ora Waves (funding rounds); investing in over 200 whānau entities. Wave Ten initiatives will be announced in October 2019.”

Profiles of the South Island Whānau Enterprises:

Koha Kai Based in Invercargill, Koha Kai, led by Janice Lee, is focused on creating social transformation within the disability sector through meaningful employment and education leading to nationally recognised qualifications. Their ‘Lunches in Schools’ initiative has enabled them to establish new business relationships, access pathways and infuse te reo rangatira throughout their work environment. Koha Kai has been able to partner with primary schools who give the use of their kitchens for trainees to cook in, in exchange for a healthy lunch option sold to students at an affordable price. Koha Kai has also expanded its operations to include growing their own produce and selling meals to the wider community.

Koha Kai gives workers purpose, life skills, and social skills that enable them to live truly valued, integrated and independent lives as fully contributing members of our community. That way, Koha Kai contributes to improving the health and well-being of people with disabilities. ‘Lunches in Schools’ also addresses child poverty and child hunger, pertinent after rising living costs in the region. Koha Kai has also developed their own maara kai/community garden to reduce costs while at the same time build the resilience, capability and confidence of whānau. Te reo Māori is used throughout their approach to support the values and principles driven by Māori concepts of awhi (help) tautoko (support) and manaakitanga (hospitality). These kaupapa form traditions of sustainability in the home gardens of participants. The aspirational goal is centred on whānau wellbeing, self-determining healthy role models and leaders in their own whānau, hapū and iwi. Whānau sharing of garden knowledge is rejuvenating and rewarding, both mentally and physically.

The charitable side of Koha Kai means that people can donate funds to support their ‘Lunches in Schools’ programme, and those funds are used to ensure the children most in need can access a free lunch during school time. An exciting milestone has recently been achieved with the opening of their own purpose-built kai trailer. The acquisition of the asset has come about through community partnerships and support they’ve been able to build throughout their initiative. The trailer is designed to enable Koha Kai trainees, with disabilities to be able to operate, and serve up top class food and beverage to their community. Contact: Janice Lee - janicel.kohakai@gmail.com; invercargill.kohakai@gmail.com

Whānau Whanake - RCG GROUP LIMITED Grace Training New Zealand, 21 McBeath Avenue Christchurch 8025

RCG Group (2010) Limited trading as Grace Training NZ (GTNZ) was established to provide a supportive and positive environment that fosters manaakitanga and whanaungatanga for whānau of all ages and abilities. In 2005, GTNZ’s founding directors, husband and wife team Rīwai and Cate Grace, were both diagnosed with long term and chronic health conditions. They were constantly told that exercise and healthy lifestyle choices would help manage their health challenges. It soon became apparent, however, that mainstream health providers were not equipped to work with the whole whānau, and the couple felt too estranged from their Māori heritage to reach out to Māori providers.

They set out to find solutions that met their unique needs, but to their disappointment they were limited in their options on who could tell them how to exercise and make healthier choices with their conditions, while aligning with their values. Their initiative, Whānau Whanake, values the whole whānau from pēpi to kaumātua, believing that everyone has something to offer. Their vision is for whānau to thrive in an accessible, accepting, diverse and inclusive world. With Te Whāre Tapa Whā at the core of their ethos, their mahi is based around three missions: to positively change whānau narratives, reduce negative health indicators for whānau impacted by long-term conditions, and create opportunities where whānau feel supported to become self-managing.

Using physical activity as the initial medium, Whānau Whanake brings whānau together in an environment where they can share and explore challenges outside their comfort zone. By including the whole whānau, positive intergenerational impacts naturally occur and whānau are educating by example, not just to their own whānau, but also within the wider Whānau Whanake rōpū.

The initiative is about:

1. Creating opportunities for whānau
2. Empowering whānau to lead their health journey
3. Immersed in a kaupapa Māori context
4. Focused on improving whānau health outcomes
5. Influencing whānau intergenerational change, and
6. Promote an inclusive and diverse whānau environment.

In the last decade, the Ōtautahi landscape has changed dramatically, so too has the ability for people to manage their own hauora. Whānau Whanake offer a way to tautoko whānau to dream big and make positive, achievable steps towards living the life they want. In the last twelve months, Whānau Whanake have supported whānau into many activities across Te Waipounamu, from a walk around the block in a moon boot post-surgery, to completing a Quarter IronMāori, proving anything is possible. As all of the rōpū manage at least one long-term health condition, they ensure that they navigate, collaborate and engage the whānau into the services they require to thrive. Whānau physical activity planning is led by whānau for whānau. The long-term sustainable outcome is generated in the ownership of whānau wellbeing, self-determining healthy role models and leaders in their own whānau and communities. Contact: Cate Grace - cate@whanauwhanake.org

Waka Abel Tasman, Te Tai o Awatea, Kaiteriteri Beach, www.wakaabeltasman.nz, 03 5278160

Waka Abel Tasman provides a training plan and resource their kaimahi for the best possible care, while actively building their capacity in activities, particularly waka tours, to initiate sustainability, entrepreneurship and leadership within their community. Waka Abel Tasman invests in kaimahi to engage with their clients in a kaupapa Māori environment. Beginning with mihi whakatau, the experience includes telling of the Māori history within their area and promoting kaitiakitanga and responsibility for their natural and living environment. Waka Abel Tasman enhance their own networks to support other areas of development with supportive networks within education, iwi, hapū and hapori within their core business of waka tours. Waka Abel Tasman provides educational support with their partnership with Whenua Iti for school tours, while acknowledging the mana of hapū and iwi. Contact: Lee-anne Jago - Lee-anne@wakaabeltasman.nz

Link to Award Finalists

About us: Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, is an agency that works on behalf of nine 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 Maori, 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. Whānau Ora Navigators work with whānau to identify their strengths, facilitate and mentor them to provide wrap-around support and skill-building.

Media Contacts: Ranae Niven, Senior Communications Advisor
Helen Leahy, Pouārahi / Chief Executive, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Mobile: 021 881 031 Email: media@teputahitanga.org 10 Show Place, Addington, Christchurch

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