The important sense of ownership and belonging to places that are special to us

Dame Tariana Turia; Professor Sir Mason Durie and Len Cook at Te Ritorito 2017

Dame Tariana Turia; Professor Sir Mason Durie and Len Cook at Te Ritorito 2017


In Crossing the Floor, Dame Tariana referred to a time in her life when she was asked was her commitment to the cause strong enough to die for it?

“George remembers two particular hui that I went to where someone asked the question, ‘would we die for the movement?’ It provoked a great deal of soul-searching – how strong was my commitment? What would be my tipping point?

The following year the question changed a little – ‘would we be prepared to kill for the movement?’ At this point George said I was bloody stupid! “  

This week some of us from Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu were privileged to be in the company of some of our heroes.  People like Dame Tariana; Professor Sir Mason Durie, Matua Whatarangi Winiata, Whetu Wereta, Len Cook, who attended and spoke at the national conference, Te Ritorito 2017: whānau, hapū and iwi wellbeing.


There were some standout moments that demonstrated the heroic courage; the passionate inspiration; the crazy enthusiasm of people who are leading our thinking in so many respects.


Professor Durie told the conference that our iwi will be well when we have:

  • Mana ake: flourishing marae and culture

  • Mana taiao: flourishing rivers, safe built and natural environments

  • Mana whenua: substantial land holdings

  • Mana tangata: Knowledgeable and highly literate whānau

  • Mana-a-iwi: collective iwi influence locally and regionally


Len Cook, from SUPERU and former Government Statistician talked about the need for relevant data for whānau:  “Statistical frameworks have a historical context but entrenchment in current modes can impede change.   As well as celebrating our journeys in the past we also need to think ahead”.


It was reassuring to hear Liz McPherson from Statistics NZ, in talking about the Integrated Data Infrastructure approach, state that “data is a means to an end.  It is not the end itself”.


And Dame Tariana started the second day concluding that “all of us practice Whānau Ora in our day to day lives.   We need to look towards our own people and our own entities to extend the Whānau Ora approach.

I was so proud of our team: who attended the hui with me: Ariana Ngaruhe (our Manukura / Whānau Ora Navigator Champion); Maania Farrar (Commissioning Manager); Manaia Cunningham (Wānanga Taiao) and Rauhine Coakley Hīkoi Waewae).  Their presentation was summed up by Professor Durie in three succinct points:


  • Maania: ‘The role of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is to evolve with whānau’

  • Rauhine: Hīkoi Waewae linking whānau with nature; building whanaungatanga, walking with pride and connecting with land;

  • Manaia: Hapai taewa embodies all the principles of Whānau Ora; including the creation of wealth (Professor Durie jokingly referred to him as an inherent ‘infomercial’!)


My speech and presentation, Whakapai te whenua, whakapai te whanau can be found on our publications link:


Working the Kūmara Vine

It must be the season for symposium.   On Wednesday and Thursday this week Vania attended the Māori Nutrition and Physical Activity Symposium at Te Mahurehure Cultural Marae in Auckland, ‘Working the Kumara Vine’:

Ka tika te whakatō purapura o āianei, Ka tika te puāwai hua o āmuri
Careful and deliberate planting will ensure good growth for the future

This whakatauākī refers to the combined effort of both the environmental and physical mastery required to tend the māra kai. When this understanding is applied it will not only sustain life for the immediate community involved but will also positively contribute to the continuation of whakapapa.


In Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, over 30% of our initiatives are associated with the whenua.  

Living with Long Term Conditions

Te Whare Oranga Pai was designed to support whanau who had been diagnosed with long term health conditions. It was a kaupapa Maori initiative aiming to involve twenty whanau focusing on those who did not currently have access to specialized health and nutrition.

“As well as discovering that they were capable of exercising, interacting with others, being accepted by mainstream gym goers and pool users; whanau gained knowledge of their conditions, medications and rehabilitation. These new understandings increased their sense of personal control, mana and rangatiratanga”. (The Evaluation of Wave One Initiatives; 2006)


This week I spoke to the national workshop on long-term conditions.   Research shows that there is a 58% reduction in developing diabetes if lifestyle changes are made at the appropriate time


The focus of the workshop promoted the aspiration that all New Zealanders live well, stay well, get well and die well.   It was wonderful to be able to draw on a range of scenarios and initiatives from across Te Waipounamu: Koha Kai, Tipu Taitama Voyaging Trust; Te Whare Oranga Pai (Poutini Waiora).   The message was consistent: people can be the experts of their own health if they are allowed to be.


There was particular support when I asked the question, from one of our Invercargill entities,  “what is it going to take before more money can be spent on the prevention of diabetes, which will ultimately decrease other co-morbidity illnesses and therefore the cost to the country and the cost to whanau?”


Subjective whānau wellbeing

This week a report was published which validates the approach we’ve been taking to our performance data.   A while ago, we agreed to use the inaugural Te Kupenga Whanau Wellbeing Survey, as one source of information when we designed our Outcomes Frameworks – Population, Systems and Whanau (‘client) levels. As part of that process, we also used readily available evidence sourced from Statistics NZ, SUPERU and others.


The attached latest summary report from SUPERU confirms our approach and in particular, our selection of performance measures which speak to subjective whanau wellbeing (e.g. loneliness or not, self-report whanau wellbeing, access to supports, non-paid whanau mahi, data on the types of whanau we commission supports/services for).   This is a great validation of our approach and choice of measures.


For some of the speeches and presentations from the SUPERU hui please have a look at the facebook page:


Rā Whānau ki a Reo Pēpi

This weekend Reo Pēpi celebrates its second birthday.   We are so proud of Kitty and Kirsten in the impact they have made in their books and cards.   The beauty of Reo Pēpi is that everyday kupu and sentences used in repetition, encourage whānau to learn together. The illustrations are original, hand drawn artworks inspired by real life experiences of tamariki.


Tomorrow at the University Bookshop in Dunedin, the next three pukapuka will be launched: Ngā Tae-Colours, Te Kaute-Counting and Ngā Āhua-Shapes.


Whānau Whenua

We are delighted to announce the release of Whānau Whenua from the Whakatū region.


They're creating a movement amongst iwi to assist the process of whānau dealing with land ownership issues and providing the opportunity to have solid input in becoming kaitiaki of their whenua.

Ngā mihi to Ngāti Kuia Trust, the Pope whānau and all those involved in the creation of this story.


A sense of place

In my address at Te Ritorito 2017, I said:

“My whānau knew if we were truly to live up to her legacy (Dame Tariana), then transformation needed to start at home.   Home to the exotic wildness of the West Coast playground, to swim in the Pororari River, to camp at Punakaiki, reconnecting with the places Mum loved so well, remembering, reflecting, recreating new memories.  Home to the bountiful orchards of Lower Moutere, the paradise that Dad never tires of promoting, the sun-baked soils of Motueka, Riuwaka, Mohua."


The sense of connection to place is a theme that comes through so many of our initiatives, whether it be land-based projects; maara kai, hīkoi waewae; rangatahi tumeke.  I was intrigued, therefore, when in Dunedin this week, the taxi driver was emphatically proud as we drove past the Railway Buildings, telling me it had “the world’s longest catwalk; the second most photographed building in the Southern Hemisphere; one of the ten wonders of the world”.  “And did you know there are 725,000 masonic tiles in the floor!   

It was a fascinating sense of ownership and belonging to the places that are special to us.

I was in Dunedin to attend the Community Response Forum.   MSD's Community Response Model was set up to enable communities to have their say about the services and support they need, recognising that local people understand their communities best.  My interest in speaking with them was in promoting and advocating, some of the amazing initiatives that have occurred in Southland/Otago.    At last count, Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu funded some 33 initiatives totalling $3,305,078.40 commissioning funding across Murihiku and Ōtākou.  We are really keen to ensure all those amazing initiatives are able to continue with longer and more enduring funding.


Tū Pono: Te Mana Kaha o te Whanau


This morning, our team, Maire Kipa, Pari Hunt, Maania Farrar, and Jackie Burrrows (He Waka Tapu) presented to iwi leaders from across the Tainui Waikato alliance, who are interested in understanding how Tū Pono: Te Mana Kaha o Te Whanau works alongside of the Integrated Safety Response pilot.


In June 2016 our team attended hui throughout the South Island to undertake a consultation process towards building a stronger Māori response to family violence - of all kinds.  Our team is now set to revisit the regions of Te Waipounamu to present the findings of the consultation hui.


The Tū Pono: Te Mana Kaha o te Whānau Facebook page is also officially up and running.  Please visit our page, LIKE IT, share the pānui and tag your friends and family.    Here’s the link: 

Go Romano!


In another one of our very successful series, this week I’m thrilled to share the story of
Romano Danford sent to us by Ngā Kete Mātauranga Pounamu in Invercargill.



The Pikia whanau are competing in a twelve-week Biggest Loser Challenge where weigh ins occur each week and $5 fines are handed out for weight gain.

The possibility of living with diabetes triggered a young father’s desire to become healthy and fit.   Romano Danford, 27, says it didn’t come as a surprise to be told he was on the verge of diabetes.

“But actually hearing Dee (Curwood, NKMP) tell me face-to-face triggered something within me to try and become as healthy as I can, to be there for my family.”

So Romano entered his whanau’s Biggest Loser Challenge and has since lost a massive 22kg, with the aim of losing even more.  The youth support worker says (while he certainly hasn’t traded in pies) he has switched all liquids for water and has been exercising and walking. He has cut down his portion sizes and doesn’t eat after 7pm.

“A lot of the stuff I do is CrossFit style training thanks to some of the brothers from work who have helped me out with a plan which helps me get the heart pumping and fatigue going. No pain, no gain.”

Becoming healthy and active has helped Romano gain his relationship back with God, which he believes has helped with his health and wellbeing.  He also doesn’t get tired as often as he used to, is able to jog, and has noticed he’s able to complete basic tasks easier.

“I used to get puffed doing the shopping or just giving the kids a bath with all the bending.” 

Romano is looking forward to playing rugby with his whanau.

“It’s been eight years since I’ve played or even been active, so it will be a test but you never know how things will go until you try, so I’ll give it a crack.”

Romano’s tip: Eat lots of tuna! It’s quick, easy, inexpensive and healthy, with a variety of flavours to choose from.