The Magic of Autumn

'Autumn is the season of change’ – Taoist proverb

The gorgeous golds and sunny burnt orange of our autumn landscapes frequently leave me awestruck.   It is as if a flame of fire has painted our trees; a beacon of light brushing over our world before winter arrives.

This week I had the privilege of travelling over the Hope Saddle as we returned from Nelson.   I drove along Memorial Drive in Christchurch where you can’t help but feel embraced by autumn as the trees on either side of the road in and out of town are resplendent in their varying shades of marmalade, and then I ended my week wonderstruck at Lake Wakatipu.   From North to South, we are sharing an explosion of colour which provides us with a moment in time to think about the things that matter, and to assess whether we are making the progress we need.

I was in Queenstown to speak at a national conference inspired by the question, How does culture impact on the existence and prevention of Family and Sexual Violence in Aotearoa?


As part of the context-setting for my speech, I referred to the recent Waitangi Tribunal [WAI 2540] report, Tū Mai te Rangi, which has concluded that the “Crown is not prioritising the reduction of the rate of Māori reoffending and is in breach of its Treaty obligations to protect Māori interests and to treat Māori equitably. The Crown’s failure to adequately address the disproportionate rate of Māori reoffending prejudicially affects whānau, hapū and iwi and the ability of Māori communities to sustain their wellbeing, their culture and their mana”.

In other words, we have never been better positioned as a nation to look critically at our actions and inaction, our interventions, our institutions and how they support the change we must all make to keep our whānau safe from harm.

Part of my kōrero referred to the all-enduring impact of violence in the lives of our children “Violence in the home is one of the most pervasive human rights challenges of our time. It remains a largely hidden problem that few countries, communities or families openly confront. Violence in the home is not limited by geography, ethnicity, or status; it is a global phenomenon”.   (Behind Closed Doors: The impact of domestic violence on children).

I shared my own experience as a kindy kid, going home at night to the piercing screams of the woman next door; waking in the night to yet another warzone scene.   In the glaring light of the day after, no-one spoke about those nightmare moments; the violence of the night was never talked about, always leaving me wondering why.


My experience in the sixties would appear to be a universal experience for far too many New Zealand children.   When I was on the Expert Panel writing the report, Investing in New Zealand’s children we were told that of the children born between 2005 and 2007 and known to CYF by age five:   69 percent had parents where there was a family violence incident attended by Police in the five years prior to the child’s birth.

In 2014, CYF received 152,000 family violence notifications from Police involving 97,000 children.   Yet the majority of these were not acted upon, as the nature of the concerns did not reach CYF’s threshold for response and there was a lack of alternative services to address the needs of these families in the community.

Common words raised by whānau participants throughout the consultation to discuss the impacts of violence amongst whānau, 2016



So if there was ever a time for change, we must do everything possible in our power now, so that not one more mokopuna goes through the experience of violence – and nothing happens.

So this week, in the majestic beauty of Tuhuru Marae at Arahura, the first of our consultation hui returned to present back to a wonderful crowd gathered, the findings and reflections that had come out of the mouths of whānau in the context of Tū Pono: Te Mana Kaha o Te Whānau.

Dame Tariana, Marg Henry (Project Manager, Tū Pono) and Maania Farrar (Commissioning Manager for Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu).

Dame Tariana, Marg Henry (Project Manager, Tū Pono) and Maania Farrar (Commissioning Manager for Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu).

We are returning to the places where we held the conversations last year, to present the Whānau Response Model : a framework for change to keep all our families safe.  In the coming week, please join with us at our Tū Pono hui:

Tū Pono: Te Mana Kaha o Te Whānau Hui

  • Thursday 27 April, Arowhenua Marae, 11am-3pm

  • Friday 28 April Scenic Hotel Dunedin; 10am-3pm

Meanwhile at Te Āwhina Marae in Motueka, the air was buzzing this week with a group of navigators from the top of the South, meeting with the fabulous Kataraina Pipi, to build their confidence and capability in PATH planning.

The effervescent Sean Delaney, Whānau Ora Navigator Extraordinaire, brought together whānau to focus on building their own plans.    The next day our team of Navigators came together for a refresher course on whānau planning.

Marae Based Innovation Network

Tangata ako ana i te whare, te tūranga ki te marae, tau ana

A person who is taught well at home, will stand proud on the marae

It stands to reason that in some of the most significant issues impacting on our whānau – addressing family violence, planning for our future – that holding the conversations on marae stands as sources of strength to keep us focused and optimistic about the change required.

And so it is that we end this week, with an exciting hui at Ngā Hau e Whā Marae in Christchurch that some of our team was privileged to attend this week.   The objectives of the workshop were to look at scoping out a new direction that Te Rūnanga o Ngā Maata Waka is co-designing with the Justice sector to support:

  • Rangatahi at risk (those who have offended and those who haven’t)

  • Women in prison, their children and those caring for them

  • A youth hub to support young people in accessing driver licensing


Tethered is Coming

Finally, I am looking forward to being able to attend the 20th Anniversary of Te Roopu Tautoko ki te Tonga Inc next week in Dunedin.