Whiti te Marama i te pō

Photographer Warren Williams captured the unique ‘aurora australis’ over the Devil’s Staircase, a long winding road over Lake Wakatipu and Kingston.   This photograph has been selected as one of the finalists in the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition for 2016.  

This last week, throughout Aotearoa, we have been treated to the most remarkable spectacle – what is known as the Blood Moon. There is nothing quite as awe-inspiring as to look upwards and wonder.  Our car has been buzzing with moon-motivated waiata:  Whiti te marama i te pō, tiaho iho mai koe, he karu mo te mata o te pō (Hirini Melbourne, ‘the moon shines in the night, beaming down, the eye to the face of the night).   Or of course, the story of Rona: Takoto ana au i te moenga hurihuri, tu ake au titiro ki te atarau, Kei runga ra te marama e whiti ana, tera Rona, kei roto ra.

The changing faces and hue of the moon is a constant of our human experience; it reflects our ever evolving sense of understanding of our own place in the universe.   The moon is that dazzling beam which illuminates; shining light where otherwise there is darkness, representing our growth, our journey in life.

In many ways it is an apt metaphor for the incredible diversity of experience and initiative bound together through Whānau Ora.   At last count we have some 86 initiatives spanning sectors, age groups, geographic regions, taha wairua, tinana, hinengaro, whānau.   We travel the length and breadth of Te Waipounamu – from the first 1000 days of our babies life (1000 Days Trust in Invercargill) to Mana Kaumatua at Te Awhina Marae in Motueka.   

This week our journey in Te Pūtahitanga took us to the capital city, for our Board to meet with the Minister for Whānau Ora; to have our monthly Board meeting, and to also present to the Social Services Committee on our submission on the Social Security (Stopping Benefit Payments for Offenders who Repeatedly Fail to Comply with Community Sentences) Amendment Bill.   

Presentation to Social Services Select Committee

We told the Committee that Government has an important role in creating an environment that supports families; that all of us have a role in preparing the future for those who will inherit it: Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri, ā muri ake nei – for us and our children after us.   We challenged the committee to think of alternative options to encourage whānau to meet their obligations rather than simply wave the big stick of removing their benefit.   

It was a great opportunity to talk about the role of our Whānau Ora Navigators.   More often than not, whānau members actively seek the support of navigators where a point of crisis has already been reached within their whānau. These crises points for whānau are frequently not the result of any one issue alone, but a point at which a confluence of issues has reached breaking point. Issues which commonly converge and snowball from one into another span health, justice, financial management, nutrition, social connectedness, smoking, drug abuse, whānau relationships, and housing.

Our concern was that if the Government only dealt with one issue in isolation, that is complying with community sentences, they run the great risk of missing an important opportunity for change in improving the situation for whānau.

A quick photo on the way to our select committee appearance: Alice Matheson (policy analyst) and Marama Fox, MP.

A quick photo on the way to our select committee appearance: Alice Matheson (policy analyst) and Marama Fox, MP.

Ngai Tahu Health Summit

Wednesday, of course, some of our team had the privilege and honour of participating in the Ngai Tahu Hauora Summit hosted at Tuahiwi marae through the generosity of Tūāhuriri.   Up to ten Papatipu runaka presented to the hui, sharing their priorities in hauora, their current activities, and their future plans.

There were some common themes throughout the day: health literacy, access pathways, suicide prevention, brain development, capacity building, housing supply, social determinants, alcohol and drug addiction, kaumātua care.

Maori Community Consultation Hui

Hauora was on the agenda again the next day, at the Maori community consultation hui at Rehua Marae.  ‘Kia Hauora te whanau’ (so that whanau are healthy) was the topic of the day.   Ngaire Button was Canterbury District Health Board attended; a presentation was also given by former All Black Bill Bush, who talked about his experiences with surgery and health interventions.   An unusual ‘highlight’ of his talk was passing around his steel ‘kneecap’ which had needed to be replaced.

The question was asked, What stops whanau from being healthy? Taua Aroha Reriti-Crofts thought a better question would be : what keeps whānau well?   The suggestions were over-flowing: mirimiri, rongoa, stop blaming ourselves, use our mouth, go into business, education, communication, exercise, healthy eating.  We heard about planning ‘my beautiful death’.   And we laughed and danced under Vaea’s guidance, ‘hikitia te ha’.

Taua Aroha

Taua Aroha

Limitless Conference a great success

We were so thrilled with the remarkable success of the Limitless conference last weekend (13 and 14 October). What a fantastic feat to attract 140 students full of energy and enthusiasm; to be inspired by the speakers, workshop facilitators and the attendees.

Limitless asks the question: if each of us works on average, 80,000 hours in a working life, how well do we spend those hours?   The conference was focused on Year 10 students: with an aim to empower them with a sense of their own unique talents and strengths, values and passion, to take into a career of purpose.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu sponsored students from Ao Tawhiti Unlimited; Marian College; Avonside Girls; Middleton Grange; Mairehau High, Hornby High; and St Thomas.   The students came from a diverse range of iwi: Ngāti Porou; Maniapoto, Ngā puhi, Moriori, Tainui, Te Atihaunui a Paparangi, Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Tuhoe, Te Atiawa, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Ngāti Awa.

What’s Up next week

  • Monday 24 October: Labour Day
  • Wednesday 26 October, Ngai Tahu Hauora Summit (Otakou Marae, 9am-4pm)
  • Thurs 27-Fri 28 October, Social Service Providers Aotearoa Conference, Christchurch
  • Saturday 29 October : Te Waipounamu Culture Council with Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Māui Māori Culture Council presents Te Waipounamu Kapa Haka Competitions 2016, 8am-8pm, 166 Nayland Road, Nelson   (Platinum Sponsor - Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō)