Out of the ashes hope returns

The sound and sight of a long line of choppers flying from the flames was enough to reduce my seven year old son to tears.   “Is this the end of the world?” he asked.  And indeed, as we watched the ferocious blaze rip through the Port Hills, it did feel as if a part of our world had turned to smoke.  

The Crater Rim walk runs the length of the Port Hills following the curve of hills around the northern side of Lyttelton Harbour.   The landscape takes your breath away: on one side gazing out across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps; on the other looking right across the harbour.   It lifts the soul to stand and stare out on the beauty of Papatūānuku, literally from a perch on top of the world.

This week however, that glistening vista was reduced to a burning inferno, houses destroyed within the path of the firestorm.  Over 400 households were evacuated, schools closed, streets cordoned off, teams of Police, Army and Civil Defence workers knocking on doors, helping whānau to leave.

For Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, there was no time to waste.  We joined the amazing team at Ngā Hau e Whā marae as they prepared to host evacuees.    We turned up at the Civil Defence Emergency Management group briefings; participated in the psychosocial recovery meetings, came together with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to help the response effort.   It’s just what any of us would do.   

And indeed, if there is one thing that stands out this week it is yet again that remarkable spirit of generosity that flows out at a time of crisis.   The baking came in thick and fast, the first curries and cakes arriving at the marae at midnight on Tuesday midnight. There were offers of accommodation, whānau in the high risk areas asking what they could do for others.   That’s manaakitanga.   That’s whanaungatanga.   That’s kaitiakitanga.

Some of the kōrero that has come out this week around the whakapapa of the Port Hills is important.  The Port Hills is known as Te Tihi o Kahukura – the crest or summit of Kahukura, the atua revealed as a dazzling rainbow.  Te Tihi o Kahukura (Castle Rock) is often referred to as a citadel, a very tapu place to the tupuna - but that’s another story passed down by one generation to the next. This mātauranga roots whānau in their connections to place and one another. Donald Couch, in kōrero shared about Rāpaki Marae some years ago, referred to the explorer, Tamatea Pōkai Whenua in the Māori name for the Port Hills, Ngā Kohatu Whakarekareka o Tamatea Pōkai Whenua meaning, the smouldering boulders of Tamatea Pōkai Whenua.    


As the hills exploded in vibrant colour this week, no doubt other kōrero will have been recalled.   These stories are important.   They help us to understand, to place in context, to talk about the land and its significance.

While the hills were raging, we hosted 2014 New Zealander of the Year, Dr Lance O’Sullivan to share his ideas about imoko.  Dr Lance spoke first with Māori health providers at Te Whare o Te Waipounamu; he then had a working lunch with Whānau Ora Navigators; a session with Te Ao Hangarau to talk through the technicalities of the imoko application, and ended the day at Kākano Café with its founder, Jade Temepara.


Dr Lance talks about a desire to “democraticise healthcare”; utilising everyday technology in everyday peoples' hands where they live, work and play.   The basic concept is that smart technology (ipad; iphone) is called on to help manage health care, by the people, for the people.


As at October 2016, four thousand children in over thirty five early childhood centres, Kohanga Reo, primary, intermediate and secondary schools, receive this innovative form of healthcare using digital technologies.   iMOKO™ offers free health checks for children, which take place at their Kohanga Reo, daycare or school, to help prevent the complications caused by untreated health problems such as skin infections, dental infections, strep throat infections, head lice, and other issues.

As well as sharing his enthusiasm for imoko with us, Dr Lance is really committed to passing on his inspirational kōrero to encourage rangatahi to believe in their dreams.   He had hardly landed in Ōtautahi before he was asking if he could spend some time with rangatahi – and so on Thursday morning he spent time at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi.  His message to the wharekura was clear: if you want to do something, believe in yourself, find a mentor – someone to help you stay focused on your goal, and then go for the stars.

An aspiring Doctor meets Dr Lance O’Sullivan: Manuera Rīwai-Couch at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi

An aspiring Doctor meets Dr Lance O’Sullivan: Manuera Rīwai-Couch at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi



Try Whānau


Last Sunday I had the privilege and pleasure of joining with whānau in Bluff to participate in two triathlon courses.   Despite the wind and rain, the town was over-brimming with eager athletes as whānau entered the pool, the bikes and the road to swim, bike and run the course.

It was wonderful to see three generations competing in great heart; mokopuna in the pool, Nanny walking the track, Dad on the bike.   A fabulous reflection of our Whānau Ora pou in action: leading healthy lifestyles; taking an inter-generational approach; being focused on our strengths; driven by outcomes.


Blind athlete Hannah Pascoe who won the silver medal with Awarua Whānau Services Chief Executive, Trish Young by her side

Waikato-Tainui had the largest number of iwi participants; second was Ngapuhi; third Ngāi Tahu


Joyce Manahi, the engine-room behind Try-Whānau, is to be commended for her vision and her persistent determination in supporting whānau to prepare for the transformation to a healthy lifestyle.  She personally enrolled whanau on the Try-Whanau TP3 Training programme, helping them to prepare to be amazed.  A whanau profile was established and includes a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) where whanau visited their Doctor or the Awarua Whanau Services Community Nurse to have a full health check prior to starting.


Although there is a need amongst the whanau for increasing their fitness levels and to lose weight, a common theme for whanau is around the inclusion of te ao Maori, whether it be in the form of te reo, taonga takaro or making connections to the whenua.   Leading up to last Sunday, whānau attended noho marae; or regular Koia Kia Tu classes (a Maori adaptation of Tai Chi) offered by Awarua Whanau Services, in their search for motivation to remain focused and engaged in fitness training.


Best of all – it wasn’t just about the physical exercise and training programme: Try-Whānau was all about whānau.   Cook Islands dancing, a ukulele group, face-painting, chop suey, hangi, mirimiri, ballroom dancing : there was something for everyone.   It was a great day out for us all.

Joyce Manahi and Serena Lyders holding me up as I finally reached the end!

Joyce Manahi and Serena Lyders holding me up as I finally reached the end!


Two weeks to go until the submissions close for Oranga Tamariki

If there is anything which might motivate you to pick up a pen and send your submission in around the relationship between our mokopuna and their whānau, hapū and iwi, we thought this beautiful photo of Hemaraea with her mama, Mata Cherrington, might provide that motivation.


Across our consultation hui on the Oranga Tamariki Bill, in Christchurch and in Invercargill, some key messages have come through:


Tamariki Māori are taonga; this is about protecting our taonga and our whakapapa.


  • If you fail to recognize that whakapapa is important, you fail to know who we are.


  • The concept of a “safe, loving and stable home” is not mutually exclusive of tamariki Māori being cared for by their whānau, hapū or iwi.


  • You cannot have “paramountcy of the child” whilst ignoring the importance of the child in the context of their whānau, hapū and iwi.


  • The Bill has kupu Māori without tikanga Māori; that reduces the effect of the kupu in the Bill.


  • The guarantees of the Treaty of Waitangi are not upheld in the Bill.


  • The ability of whānau, hapū and iwi to make decisions about our taonga, our tamariki, is reduced in the Bill.


  • The obligation to first look to whānau, hapū and iwi when placing a tamariki Māori has been removed in the Bill.


  • Whānau Ora is not present in the Bill.


  • The Bill is a step backwards from the Children, Young Peoples and their Families Act 1989.


Please let us know if you would like to access the Bill, a draft submission, or key lines that you can share around your whānau, to enable your voice to be heard.   As my kids used to tell me from the movie Lilo and Stitch: ‘Ohana means family; no-one gets left behind or forgotten”.   We absolutely believe that every child deserves to feel the love, the belonging and the safety of their whānau in raising them to be the very best they can be.


Send your thoughts to the Social Services Select Committee, Parliament Buildings, by 3 March.   (no stamp required).