Tū Pono Christchurch Consultation

Rehua Marae

Thursday 9 June 2016

Helen Leahy


"Matariki nana i ao ake" : Matariki has risen.

 

Today we greet you, through new eyes – eyes wide open through the starlight of Puaka; and the nine stars of Matariki, the light of the Māori New Year.

 

As we gather here at Te Whatu Manawa Māoritanga o Rehua we recall particularly the puna which would have once provided fresh water for the peoples of Ngāti Mamoe/ Waitaha who lived at the Puari pā located near the centre of Christchurch.

 

It is right, therefore, to be here in this space of growth and new life, to launch the first of this important series of hui, Tū Pono.

 

I want to firstly acknowledge the leadership of Tā Mark who has consistently stared down the face of uncertainty, giving courage to us all to keep motivated, to strive ahead when the going gets tough.

 

There is no untravelled pathway more worthy of such a bold leader than the impact of harm upon our families, and for that I mihi to you e Tā.  You not only had the incredible strength to share your story – you also have given us the inspiration of ideas.

 

There is a saying, that if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, than you are a leader.

 

The leadership in this whare is motivational beyond belief.  The taua and pōua, the champions for the kaupapa, the advocates of change – you are all here, you have led the way.

 

Now it is time for all of us to step up to the challenge; to create the legacy that we can be proud of.

 

Tū Pono, then, is all about finding the opportunities in any difficulty than confronts us – rather than conversely finding the difficulty in every opportunity.

 

Today we are about solutions, strategies, a pathway forward.

 

And so I return again to the message of Matariki, and some of the lessons of this time for taking on such a critical take.

 

The largest star in the cluster is that of Pohutukawa, the star who guides the souls to their final resting place.  The reality is inescapable.  While Maori make up approximately 17 percent of the population, roughly half of the number of family violence offenders are Māori, and in Christchurch approximately 46% of family violence victims are Māori.

 

We have had more than enough of the statistics which have left an indelible mark on far too many of our whānau.   As you entered the whare today, the sorrow of so many hurting hearts was palpable amongst us.  Alcohol, drug, mental health, sexual health, family violence – all of those issues are carried here today.   Something has to change.

 

We must do everything in our power to make the change – so that no more lives are lost, no more families destroyed, no more whānau forever traumatised through the impact of suicide, no more secrets taken to the grave of lives half lived.

 

A comprehensive, multi-pronged approach is required; a long term investment in policy, infrastructure and communities and most of all whānau need to lead the strategy, to restore to ourselves families free of harm.

 

The smallest star of Matariki is the star, Hiwa-i-te rangi.   She is the star of abundance; she represents the hope that falls to the earth to grow and bear fruit within the year.

 

Nowhere is this hope better stated than through the wisdom of Tamati Kruger and the Māori Taskforce in the report, Transforming Whānau Violence, which told us that what is required is Mauri Ora

 

It is regarded as the maintenance of balance between wairua (spiritual wellbeing), hinengaro (intellectual wellbeing), ngakau (emotional wellbeing) and tinana (physical wellbeing). Mauri ora is sustained and restored by experiences of ihi (being enraptured with life), wehi (being in awe of life), and wana (being enamoured with life) … Violence damages wairua, ngakau and tinana. It disturbs ihi, wehi and wana.”

 

Kruger made that statement a dozen years ago, in the year 2004.

 

Just this month, researchers Dr Janet Fanslaw and Dr Pauline Gulliver released a new study on understanding the research in risk and protective factors associated with intimate partner violence.  

 

In their study they suggested that if we are to really address Māori family violence, the key lies in enhancing Māori social capability through three routes:

  • Enhance collective unity;

  • Connected, safe and supported whānau,

  • Meaningfully engage with Māori culture and Māori institutions.

 

What both Tamati Kruger and Fanslaw and Gulliver reveal, is that the answer lies within our own solutions.   

This is not about a promise delivered by a provider; or a one-stop-shop programme that fixes all: all of us who come here today know that the greatest difference that we can commit to is in our own homes, in our own ways.

 

Here we are then, in Pīpiri – the name of the month literally meaning to stay warm, to come together, to hibernate, to reflect.

 

I think it is also worthy of remembering that Puaka is not just about collecting and storing of food for the winter period.

 

"Matariki ahunga nui" refers to the heaping up of furrowed ground to protect kūmara seed from frost.  The frost is important.   It takes away the paru, the dirt freezes in the cutting sting of winter and melts into the soil when the frost washes away.

 

This is the time to clear away the overgrowth, to put your garden back to kore, to plant a new seed, to bear new fruit.

 

We start off on Tū Pono, in the lead up to the national Integrated Safety Response pilot which will kick off in Christchurch on 1 July – three weeks from here.

 

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu – the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency is a member of the governance table of the pilot. Other agencies include the Police, Child Youth and Family; the District Health Board, Ministry of Social Development, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Ministries of Health and Education, Department of Corrections and non-government organisations associated with the Canterbury Family Violence Collaboration.

 

I want to particularly acknowledge Robyn Wallace (He Oranga Pounamu); Kiritapu Allen, Talia Richards, Maire Kipa, Marg Henry, Te Puna Oranga, Te Whare Hauora for stepping up to move mountains.

 

Our intention in being at the table is to ensure support for a Whānau Ora approach – and that is to guarantee that whānau aspirations are part of the solution.

 

Whilst a Whānau Ora approach in principle is not new for kaupapa Māori providers its transition and practice within the public sector and NGO sector is inconsistent and so we are determined to help bring the voice of whānau into the conversation.

 

It is about giving voice to our hopes and dreams, naming the courage we need to strengthen the platforms for minimizing and preventing serious harm in domestic and sexual violence.

 

When Tā Mark approached us at Te Pūtahitanga, and asked whether we would like to be part of the TŪ Pono campaign, we jumped at the chance.

 

We want to hear the stories of how Whānau Ora outcomes contribute to change that enhances whānau wellbeing, care and safety.   Other hui are planned for Nelson/Marlborough region, Hokitika, Arowhenua, Dunedin and Southland.

 

Matariki is positive. Matariki rising represents the rebirth of Maori identity, the dawning of a new age.

 

And so, in the spirit of walking the talk, over this last weekend I turned to my  own whānau to help guide me in knowing what Tū Pono can mean out of the mouth of babes: three rangatahi – 17 and 16; a ten year old, eight year old and our son son – at seven beautiful years of age.

 

The two older girls were instant in their response: Tū Pono means taking accountability for your actions; facing the truth; being true to yourself; it means never breaking the promise, pinky promise.

 

The boyfriend deliberated a while, and after a bit of gentle nudging – no doubt to either impress me or my daughter - responded :

 

What comes to mind for me is that, Tū Pono can be explained as Tōtara wāhirua, he kai nā te ahi.

 

“A totara that is split is food for the fire

But one that is together, stands against the wind”.

 

Division and a lack of unity, lead to failure.

 

And the three younger ones were united in their analysis:

  • – you have to stand up and

  • Pono: You have to tell everybody what you are doing and you have to be like pono.

 

Tū Pono, is then, your chance to tell us what, how, why, we should be doing as whānau, as the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, as kaimahi, as friends – what it will take to change the cycle, to make the difference, to create lives free of violence.

 

We know it won’t just come from changing the legislation – although it would be a great place to start – to not have the arbitrary division and separation of families into perpetrators, victims, children – as the current Domestic Violence Act enforces.

 

We know it isn’t just about more services, more programmes, more providers – although the rising demand for intervention should also be seen as a positive outcome of a more aware community – rather than as an indictment of the levels of violence within our midst.

 

We know that it’s not enough to just say It’s not Ok – or to wear the white ribbon – or to watch the White Ribbon ambassadors bike into town.   As important as all these symbols of resistance are, we also need effective strategies, tools that we can all apply to demonstrate our belief in standing strong against violence.   

 

That might be in the way in which we determine who it is that stands on our paepae, or indeed what the kōrero is that is promoted at every hui, at every tangi, a message of wellbeing, survival, protection, love enacted in our words and actions.

 

It is about all our iwi taking more strategic action to influence resourcing and investment in wellbeing aligned with Whānau Ora Outcomes

 

And importantly, Tū Pono is all about encouraging courage – reminding us all to dig deep, to speak out, to think about the pathway ahead for all our mokopuna, to be guided by Hiwa-i-te rangi to plant a new life for us all.


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