"Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet."

The attitude of gratitude is something we can all foster.

This week, at the opening of the Canterbury Children’s Team, Dr Te Maire Tau of Te Ngāi Tuahuriri, spoke about the theme of gratitude as he shared the experience of having to repaint and paper rooms in his whare, after a group of young people had caused some damage to the property. His wife told him, the visible marks of distress on doors and walls can easily be repaired; what isn’t quite so easy to restore are the scars of a troubled soul.


It was a grim reminder of the reality we can all do something about – the overwhelming need to ensure every child of Aotearoa knows they are loved; feels they are special to someone.   Christchurch plays host to a new hub for Vulnerable Children; a way of bringing vital coordination across departments and a strong focus to making every child thrive. But of course the greatest hub is that we can create within our own homes.   

Meanwhile over in the land of Te Tai Poutini, Ngāti Waewae opened the doors at Arahura Marae to welcome iwi chairs from across Aotearoa to their last hui of the year.

The Iwi Communications Practitioners Forum took place on Tuesday and Wednesday and brought together iwi communications experts to talk together about connections; both electronic and virtual.  Te Pūtahitanga was proud that one of our more recently funded initiatives, Iwinet –driven and inspired by Ariki Creative and Manu Media – featured on the agenda of communication practitioners as a leading example of daring to dream – to connect in multiple ways –whenever and wherever.   


Then on Thursday and Friday, the Iwi Chairs from across the motu arrived at Arahura with an enormous agenda spanning oil, minerals and gas; climate change; conservation; freshwater.   Ngai Tahu Deputy Kaiwhakahaere – and Te Taumata Chair. Lisa Tumahai presented on our behalf, in the session in which the Iwi Chairs were updated on progress with Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

Our presentation to the Iwi Chairs at Arahura was preceded with a similar presentation to Te Waka a Maui – the South Island based Iwi Chairs – at Wakatu Marae in Nelson on Tuesday.  One of the remarkable features of our Pūtahitanga philosophy has been the understanding that everything we do is based on the vision of the nine iwi of Te Waipounamu.  Being able to attend hui in the tribal heartland, the marae of our nine iwi, is a privilege and a responsibility to ensure we are always grounded by the ideas of the people.

The notion of tūrangawaewae – that association between tangata (people) and land (whenua) is never more direct than in the marae of all our papatipu rūnanga, hapu, iwi across Te Waipounamu.

Recent research reveals that just over half (55.7%) of Māori in the South Island knew their marae tūpuna.   This is significantly lower than for New Zealand as a whole.  (70.5% of Māori adults in New Zealand knew their Tūpuna Marae.)   Of the 55.7% of Māori in the South Island who knew their ancestral marae), nearly 80% had been to that marae. Less than a third (32.1%) had visited their marae in the last year. But the good news is that for those that knew their marae tūpuna, 58.7% would like to visit more often.

Connection to Marae Tupuna as Tūrangawaewae, for Māori in Te Waipounamu and New Zealand, Te Kupenga, 2013

Connection to Marae Tupuna as Tūrangawaewae, for Māori in Te Waipounamu and New Zealand, Te Kupenga, 2013

These findings are very interesting to us as we embark on our next round of applications for Whānau Ora support.   What will it take for all of our marae to be the virtual hub of our communities; the one stop shop; the first port of call?   A place where our gratitude can grow – for the connections that span generations; the stories and songs of those long before us being passed down for our children to learn.   A place where truly, we walk as if we are kissing the earth with our feet; the place we call home.