The Standing Place of my Heart - 14th October 2016
“I love it better than any place on Earth. It is my tūrangawaewae-ngakau, the standing place of my heart”. (Keri Hulme)
This last weekend, we made our way along the East Coast, to the beautiful seaside village of Moeraki, to meet with members of Te Runanga o Moeraki regarding the work of Whānau Ora Navigators, Wave Five applications, and the general environment for supporting the aspirations of whānau to be self-determining.
It was a great conversation. How can the papatipu rūnanga enhance the best interests of whānau who may not be living at home? How can whānau feel an ownership of developments at home? The questions were heightened by the fact that the marae had just experienced the excitement of Te Kura o te Tira Mōrehu Reo o Moeraki, at which over seventy whānau members gathered together to revive te reo rangatira, to strengthen the sense of whanaungatanga, to cherish their own tūrangawaewae-ngakau.
Whakamana Ngati Kuri
48 hours later it was a similar – yet distinctively different conversation – that we were having at Takahanga Marae in Kaikoura. Contract advisor, Te Ra Morris, Coach, Karl Waretini and I had a wonderful day participating in discussions around what priorities whānau consider will be important in moving forward.
Te Tai o Marokura has been championing an initiative, Whakamana Ngati Kuri, to drive and lift the anti-bullying message and strategies across the community of Kaikōura. Since April the Spoken Word workshops with tamariki, rangatahi and pakeke has captured a rich repository of feedback from an eight year old through to an eighty year old kuia.
It is exciting to see comments like this from an 18 year old, “Something that I never thought I would do. Glad I came” or a kuia, “It made me feel useful and I could still give help to my whānau I have the love”. Or to see the rangatahi strategies in the school being applied during Youth Week, to walk away and tell someone, to talk to someone they trust, to stand up for themselves.
Platforms for Social Transformation
On Tuesday in Invercargill, the magnificent Professor Sir Mason Durie presented at a one-day hui, about the importance of whānau and whānau development for Aotearoa in the future. It was a great privilege for the story of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu to be included in the day, eloquently presented by our contract advisor, Vania Pirini.
Waitaha Mokopuna Ora Seminar
On Wednesday and Thursday, over seventy midwives, Tamariki Ora nurses, educators, academics, Whānau Ora practitioners, whānau members gathered at Rehua Marae to learn, listen and lead discussions on how to protect all our mokopuna in the context of Sudden Unexpected Death in infancy (SUDI).
There were some startling statistics:
that the SUDI rate among Maori infants five times higher than non-Maori;
that Maori mothers bed-shared and smoked during pregnancy 21 times as much as non-Maori
and that through the introduction of the wahakura, there has been a 30% decrease in deaths of our babies.
One of the outstanding contributions at the wananga was from Hana O’Regan, who talked about the need to be planned and deliberate; to move from compartmentalizing issues to working in a more whānau-centred way. We need to take control of the messages, to be simple yet consistent in our promotion of the safe sleep message.
Tukuna te wahakura, Hei waka ora, Mo te kura auhuka, A muri ake nei
Send forth our wahakura as a vessel for our wellbeing for our prized treasures forever
A keynote speaker, Dr David Tipene-Leach, left us with three very strong messages about how we could normalise and promote the concepts of safe-sleeping through the wahakura strategy:
for all DHBs to be supplied with wahakura/waikawa so that every Maori mother has the opportunity to have a wahakura;
for Wahakura become the playpen, the prized family heirloom
for Wahakura whakairo to become an iconic high quality item in our artistic market.
In doing so, his challenge was that we all take up the opportunity to share simple, effective messages, to create the basis of a new antenatal programme in our communities; to share a universal vision of giving all our babies the best chance.
We can’t resist sharing these beautiful pictures from one of our exciting initiatives in the West Coast.
Hīkoi Waewae is the concept for a walking/hiking/tramping rōpū within Te Tai Poutini. The ingoa when translated literally, means walking legs. However the ingoa incorporates the hapū Ngāti Waewae and also to hīkoi as in journey so it translates as Ngāti Waewae on a journey together, moving our legs. ( being active).
The goal of the Whānau Ora approach, through Hikoi Waewae, is to experience wellbeing through developing fitness and spending time in a natural environment, breathing clean fresh air and disconnecting from technology. The majority of walks will not have cell phone or internet coverage. It is an initiative to build leadership qualities by having the opportunity to organize and lead an expedition, to gain a sense of empowerment through the pride of achievement (the ‘can do anything’ attitude). It is about sustainability by passing on knowledge of whakapapa, the ongoing use of Māori place names, te reo Māori, ngā hua o te ngahere and the journal of ngā hīkoi.
Bread and Roses
As I was writing this, I was in Wellington as the news came in about the passing of veteran trade union activist, Helen Kelly. As we reflected on her contribution to fighting for justice for workers, the CTU office was being greeted with members of the public walking on off the street, carrying bread and roses. Bread and roses is a powerful symbol associated with trade union activism, particularly the relentless pursuit by women for better wages (bread on the table) and a better world (to smell the roses). Helen was a relentless catalyst for change, for the health and safety of workers and always in the context of their whānau. We have much to be grateful to her and her family for, in her quest for progress on all fronts.
Moe mai ra e te rangatira. Ma te atua hei tiaki hei manaaki i tō haerenga ki tō kainga tō whare okioki.