Tama Nui: Leveki ti Ofaofa e Vagahau Niue

Our second oldest daughter has whakapapa that takes her to The Rock: the beautiful island paradise that is Niue.   Ten years ago we made the trip to this tropical aquarium, to explore her tribal playground and bathe in the beautiful blue-green rock pools that the island is immersed in.   

One of the most precious memories of this time was when two kuia approached us, embracing their new mokopuna up with a fierce love that we knew linked our girl directly to the great grandmother whose name she carries with her.   They rubbed her cheeks, staring into her eyes and letting generations of memories flow between them.

I reflected back on that chance meeting this week, as Niuean musician, Tigilau Ness, spoke about a new single he is creating, written entirely in the Niuean language.   The theme, Tama Niue: Leveki Ti ofaofa e vagahau Niue, reflects the aspiration: Niue child, nurture and embrace vagahau Niue.

The Niuean language is currently classified by UNESCO as an “endangered language” or as the elders say “Aloalo tea Niue” (Goodbye Niue).

This week is Niue Language Week (14-20 October).   But you know – just as we say about Māori language week – every week should be an opportunity to promote the languages, the songs, the stories, the cultural treasures that shape our world around us.


Whānau Ora Navigator – Oranga Tamariki

This week we feature Mamaeroa Ngata-Stevens (Ngati Porou) who is a Whanau Ora Navigator-based in Oranga Tamariki.

Mamaeroa is a qualified Indigenous Social Worker and has worked as a care and protection Senior Practitioner for Oranga Tamariki for the past two years.    Mamaeroa believes this role is an exciting opportunity for Oranga Tamariki and Whanau Ora Navigators to work together collectively to support our whanau to reach their dreams and aspirations based on Maori world views and cultural practices.

Mamaeroa has a particular focus on suicide/whakamomori awareness and prevention.  She has qualifications in Heke Matauranga Mauriora Indigenous Addictions and Mental Health Diploma and Poutuarongo Toiora Whanau/Indigenous Social Work Degree.   Her background includes fourteen years experience in Te Punawai o Tuhinapo and Home for Life Social Work



This week Maire Kipa and I attended the very first Harm Reduction conference.

The conference marked the thirty-year anniversary of the needle exchange programme, one of New Zealand’s most successful public health programmes.

New Zealand was the very first country in the world to introduce a national state sponsored Needle Exchange Programme.   The results are stunning. While internationally the prevalence rate for HIV and AIDS is 13%; in Aotearoa it is just 0.2%.   Given this remarkable achievement over just thirty years, I was surprised there was so little coverage of the hui.

Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use.  For instance, it is about simple messaging such as “if it doesn’t smell like cannabis, it isn’t cannabis”.

Apparently some of the most hazardous drug use has been first time users of cannabis, who unwittingly end in a serious state because what they thought was cannabis was actually synthetics.   Following the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 there has been regulation and removal of most harmful products with some 300 products removed. But the risk of dangerous drugs on the market is ever present.   Over the last three weeks, some 31 Christchurch people have been admitted to hospital because of a particularly harsh batch of synthetics which has caused significant harm.

We are keen to work with our Whānau Ora Navigators to reinforce messages about how to create healthy and resilient communities in the context of gambling, alcohol, drugs and substance use and other harms..

Helen Leahy with Dame Catherine Healy; the founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective

Helen Leahy with Dame Catherine Healy; the founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective

Moana o Hinerangi with Tuari Pokiti; Chair of the New Zealand Drug Federation

Moana o Hinerangi with Tuari Pokiti; Chair of the New Zealand Drug Federation


Wero your Tero Where-ever you are!

It was wonderful to see the ‘wero your tero’ promotion at Peter Lyon Shearing in Alexandra

The Whānau Ora Navigators have been building a relationship with Peter Lyon Shearing (through Wero your Tero) and then into other health promotion activities and support of navigation based at Uruuruwhenua or Tokomairiro Waiora.

Aleisha Robinson (from Uruuruwhenua Health) has an evening each week that she is based at Peter Lyons shearing accommodation.

Several of those in the shearing quarters had no doctor and so the arrival of the Whānau Ora Navigators has been an important means of gaining some support.


PATH Planning in Wairau

This week the Whānau Ora Navigators from the top of the South have been planning as a group at Maata Waaka ki Te Tau Ihu.  The photo includes Ripeka Hook and Eileen Eriha from Ngati Rarua. 


Guide for Carers

This week Rawa attended the Caring for Carers Workshop in Christchurch.   Have a look at some of these resources

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