Me he manawā tītī, me tōhona hirika

Me he manawā tītī, me tōhona hirika
“With the famed strength and perseverance of the tītī.”

This whakataukī, often used as a metaphor for a person with great endurance, came to mind this week through the activities and enthusiasm of two incredible groups close to Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.


The first was the group of leaders-in-progress that came together for Te Kākano o Te Totara last weekend.   From all accounts it was an amazing weekend  - these young leaders were immersed in their projects for ten hours without a break; such was intensity of their focus.   

Te Kākano o te Totara supports the development of emerging leaders who are actively involved in their own whānau transformation.   It is a perfect opportunity to support rangatahi to support and lead their whānau, creating opportunities for these young leaders to be agents of change.

There is one more wānanga left in Te Kākano o Te Totara series – and that’s in November.   Until then, the participants will all be working hard on their projects, to make the difference they seek.

The second group to grab our attention this week was the 32 Whānau Ora Navigators who came together at Rehua marae to learn, to listen, to share.   It was a huge privilege to spend some time with them and to listen to their stories around whenua, whakapapa, whānau.   Along the way our ngā kaiwhakatere had workshops, discussed models of engagement, learnt from the best about suicide prevention strategies, Mokopuna Ora – working to restore children in care to their whānau, and some of the findings from the review of the role of the Ru Whenua Kaitoko.

One of the precious moments of the hui was having the koroua, Ruawhitu Pokaia, take the team on a virtual hīkoi, canvassing the connection to the concept of navigation from the seafarer’s journey across Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.  Ruawhitu talked about how Kupe had the courage and the sense of daring to think differently, to take the plunge and head off safe shores, prepared to face the ebbs and tides of oceans unknown.   It is an apt metaphor for the challenge of the Navigator role: being prepared to be there for all our whānau, no matter what.


Coming up next weekend is a wānanga reo-a-whānau at Whakatū Marae in Nelson (Saturday 10 September).   The wānanga is one of fifteen being hosted by Ngā Muka ki te Tauihu, one of the entities funded in Wave Two.   If you want to know more about it, please email

The week started with a quick meeting with the Minister of Corrections and Police about the Integrated Safety Response Pilot.   We are represented in the pilot through our commitment to Tū Pono: Te Mana Kaha o te Whānau.

On Thursday Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu hosted SUPERU for a first-in-the-South-Island seminar on the Families and Whānau Work programme.  One of the fascinating features of the morning was learning about some of the ways in which whānau define themselves or are defined by others.  

“In more recent times data about Māori has been used to identify gaps, explain gaps, close gaps, plug gaps and deny gaps.   More often than not, the requirements and priorities of government have taken precedence over Māori informational needs and priorities” (Dr Tahu Kukutai, 30 May 2016).

The challenge raised in the seminar was how to define whānau wellbeing; what terms do we use to define our identity?   A timeline was shared which represents how governments, statisticians, officials and others have sought to describe whānau in ways which serves to minimise or marginalise.  It was interesting to see how the impact of being redefined as a percentage or quota of whakapapa can cause long-lasting effects on the way in which we see ourselves.

Raniera Dallas, sharing his ideas around suicide prevention in the whare at Rehua Marae.

Raniera Dallas, sharing his ideas around suicide prevention in the whare at Rehua Marae.

Sarah Clark, Helen Leahy, Kahukore Baker and Donovan Clarke at the SUPERU seminar

Sarah Clark, Helen Leahy, Kahukore Baker and Donovan Clarke at the SUPERU seminar

Finally, in honour of the special day on Sunday, I found this quote which reflects the most important foundation we can ever hope for in our parents:   “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me”.

MadsTe PūtahitangaComment