This week the Minister for Education came to town, and spoke with whānau, hapu and iwi at Nga Hau e Wha marae in Christchurch.  Hon Hekia Parata – in responding to the claim that the single most important factor affecting educational success was poverty, gave her view about the four things she believes lead to success in schooling and early childhood education.

  1. Quality of leadership
  2. Quality of teaching
  3. How high the expectations are throughout the community for education
  4. How strongly whānau are involved in their children’s education.

It was a perfect segue into a gift that I was able to share with the Minister, the gift of three pukapuka from the Reo Pepi series of books.


Reo Pepi came from the inspiration of Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson; two cousins who are driven by a passion to keep the reo alive; two daughters who dreamed for more; who knew tomorrow rests in the strength and wellbeing of their children and their children’s children.

Their target group – young children and their parents – recognise that the strength of the whānau lies in equipping our young people with all they need.

Kitty and Kirsten saw these beautiful books as being able to be the first stepping stone towards language fluency and revitalisation.

But importantly, the goal was not an individual aspiration alone.

They set their goal, firmly and proudly in the context of whanau.

They understood the relationship between language growth, positive Māori health outcomes and a secure Māori identity.   Kaumatua from Te Runanga o Otakou, Edward Ellison, was proud to speak at the launch, commending their passion for being Maori; their pride in identity and te reo; and most of all their love for our tamariki mokopuna

While thinking about the love of learning that both Minister Parata and Reo Pepi share, we have all been saddened this week by the heartbreak associated with the devastating pile of rubble and ashes left behind by the fire that overtook Westland High School on Monday.  In a community like Hokitika, the destruction and debri that once was a school is a visual shock that will impact widely across families.   It has been heartening to see the community coming together to offer support – and Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu joins with you all in wanting to know, just what we can do to help.

In situations of stress, sometimes navigating the red tape, the agencies, the different choices available can be a real challenge.   In Te Pūtahitanga, we have been really grateful for the insights and the support of our Navigators across Te Waipounamu, some 24 fulltime equivalents.


Just last week, Whaea Molly Luke (General Manager of Te Hauora O Ngāti Rārua) and Gail MacDonald General Manager of Maataawaka Ki Te Tau Ihu welcomed Abigail Naamana (Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa) and Tane Whānga (Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāpuhi) into the whānau at their powhiri on Parerārua Marae.   


Abigail will be hosted by Te Hauora O Ngāti Rārua and Tane by Mātāwaka Ki Te Tau ihu both organisations have come together to work together.

As they say, “coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success”.

And really – that’s the mantra of Whānau Ora – working collectively, collaboratively – for the greater good.   Have a great week!

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