Gemstones; Sunsets on Fire and the Demigod of Peace and Resilience


My imagination knew no bounds as we travelled along the wild Southland coastal roads this week, passing the beach known as ‘Gemstone’.   It is said that the beach is in a constant state of change, moving from sand dunes to stony surface in time with the storms and tides.

Gems become revealed to those who walk these ways: an otherwise humble stone transforming into a prism that encapsulates the radiance of the beaming sun, the fire of a blazing sunset, the fresh tints of dawn as they pass from pearly pink to hot red; the cool aquamarine of the sea waves.   

These treasures of the natural world reflect the wonders of the skies and the rich warmth of our soils; shifting, moving, capable of awe-inspiring admiration when we take the time to polish.    And that act of change in itself resembles the process of growth so many of our whānau go through: a transition from a state of flux to the splendour of the universe personified.

Whānau Tautoko

On June 30, 2016 initiatives in five organisations formerly funded by the Ministry of Social Development were transferred to Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.    Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu described these five organisations as ‘Whānau Tautoko’ initiatives. Agencies for transfer were deemed to be a good fit with the Whānau Ora approach, were identified as strengths-based, whānau-centred and focused on empowering whānau.  


In 2017 we undertook an evaluation with Ihi Research.  The evaluation concluded that the Community Trusts which exist in the southern, rural, isolated communities appeared to provide an essential service for all of the community.  The data indicated that all the trusts survived on a significant amount of volunteer time for administration, governance and the running of events.

This week Vania Pirini and I spent some time visiting at two of these Whānau Tautoko entities: in Tuatapere and Otautau.

The Tuatapere Whānau Support Worker serves the Tuatapere area providing confidential support, information, referrals, assistance accessing rental rebates and a foodbank. Creating a cohesive, aligned, community approach to enabling whānau will be an important outcome to achieve the aims of Whānau Ora within the Tuatapere community.


Otautau and District Community Charitable Trust

The Otautau and District Community Charitable Trust exists to support the social, physical, mental and cultural wellbeing of people within the Otautau District by providing a range of services.  

The community is very isolated and supports many rural whānau. Their community worker, the magnificent Zola Ayson brings to her mahi over two decades of experience in this community and a wealth of background knowledge from the public health sector. She describes her role as providing information, advice and support across the community and collaborating with agencies to ensure the community has access to services they need. The Trust offers information and advice for the whole whānau - from babies through to the elderly.   The Trust offers support to Otautau whānau and the community with;

  • An operational food bank

  • Administrative assistance e.g. filling out forms and faxing or emailing them away

  • Connection to appropriate community services  

  • A variety of programmes for youth and the elderly

  • Initiating training and courses in response to identified community needs


Care of Tūpāpaku in coronial custody

In 2017 the Maori Affairs Select Committee concluded an enquiry into whānau access and management of tūpāpaku or, deceased loved ones, in coronial custody. The enquiry aimed to identify concerns for whānau and make recommendations that would strengthen the way in which the act recognised not only tikanga Māori but all cultural beliefs.  

Approximately 20% of annual deaths in New Zealand will go through coronial services in cases where some investigation is necessary to confirm causes of death.

Contrary to tikanga, in which immediate whānau stay with their deceased until burial, the current management of a body in custody restricts access to to the deceased and delays release of the body.

The implications of the Coroners Access To Body of Dead Persons Amendment Bill will mean a coroner is required by law to recognise “the cultural and spiritual needs of family, and of others who were in a close relationship to a person who has died” (Coroners Act 2006, s3 (2)) when whānau wish to view, touch or remain with or near the tūpāpaku in custody.  This includes recognition of the role of whānau representatives who provide religious or spiritual benefit. Viewing facilities at individual mortuaries will influence the extent to which whānau can interact with tūpāpaku. Other restrictions include controls to eliminate pathological risk to whānau or tūpāpaku and contamination in the case of a criminal offence.

A six week window of opportunity for public submissions on the bill is anticipated.

Tu Pono: Te Mana Kaha o te Whānau

He Tapu te Mana; He Kakano Kaua e Takahi

Mana is the seed of hope: do not trample it

This week, the return hīkoi of the Tu Pono roadshow commenced at Omaka Pa in Blenheim.   A strong turnout of local whānau, providers, ‘helping agencies’ and Whānau Ora Navigators was in attendance\

It was at Te Hora Pa last May that Waihaere Mason declared that Tu Pono: Te Mana Kaha o Te Whānau should be a Te Waipounamu strategy.   Since that time there have been hui at Te Awhina Marae in Motueka; Whakatu Marae in Nelson and this is the third hui in as many months.  

A regional Te Tau Ihu Project team was put together to provide a more local face to Tu Pono: standing tall in our truth.   Richard Bradley was invited to project manage the group on the basis of his prior child protection and stopping violence work.  That invitation came from Whaea Molly Luke who is the Chairperson of Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu and General Manager of Te Hauora o Ngati Rarua.

Dr Lorraine Eade is also on the group and brings an extensive background in Maori mental health and Child Protection practice experience – as well as being the Chair of our Assessment Panel for Te Pūtahitanga. Kaumatua of Ngati Rarua Barney Thomas has also joined the group along with former social worker Shane Graham of Te Puni Kokiri.   Dexter Traill -the acting Maori Liaison Officer for the NZ Police has also been appointed to the group.


Dame Tariana spoke to the hui about her experiences in the role as independent Chair of Kawe Tutaki : a means by which Taranaki Iwi Trust, the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust and Parihaka Tōpu Tikanga came together to live up to the aspiration of the Parihaka community to achieve self-sufficiency and reconciliation.

Dame Tariana referred to the day a reconciliation package was signed with the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust. During the ceremonial process of that day, a poi was performed which had not been heard for forty years.   It was a poi which told of the history of shame, the story of a women raped by soldiers, who lived forever in the humiliation and the horror of her dignity being removed from her. The use of this poi to both retell the history of tragedy, but in itself to stand as an act of resistence and resilience was shared with the hui at Omaka Pa, as a way of promoting the message that within the culture – the waiata, the poi, karakia, mōteatea, the stories – there is a memory and a history which can be a strong force for good in providing examples of how to deal with conflicts and trauma in our every day lives.

A message from the hui was to lay the challenge for more conversations to occur; to create the stimulus for building the dialogue around keeping all our whānau safe and free from harm.    As the sun set at Omaka Pa there was a flash of inspiration when one of our whānau from Seddon asked if she could take a handfall of the Tu Pono strategies, to start walking the talk at home – to call hui together to start building a consensus about what works in keeping all our whānau safe.

Dame Tariana Turia and Whaea Molly Luke

Dame Tariana Turia and Whaea Molly Luke

Share your views on the future of the Crown/Māori relationship.

Find out more online:

The government wants your views on how to rejuvenate the Crown/ Māori relationship, and to finalise the scope and priorities of the Crown/Māori Relations portfolio with your input.   There are three hui being held in Te Waipounamu

  • Nelson, 14 April – 10.30am at Tahuna Function Centre

  • Christchurch, 15 April – 11.30am at Ngā Hau e Wha marae

  • Invercargill, 12 May – 9.30am at Murihiku marae

He Oranga Ngakau

Here’s a link to an important symposium occurring in Auckland early next month, He Oranga Ngākau:

He Oranga NGakau.jpg

Winners of the Pipi Ma Dolls

Finally; we are delighted to announce the winners of our colouring competition undertaken during the recent Māori night market, Te Pataka o Wairau.

·         Maia Beech (6yrs) from Picton – thanks to her Aunty who posted us her colouring in!

·         Otis Coningham (4yrs) from Springlands, Blenheim who is learning te eo shapes and colours at the moment and loving it! – He squealed with delight when his mum told him he’d won!

We were so rapt with the entries that came in over the last couple of weeks.   Please find below the winning entries from Otis Coningham, aged 4 and Maia Beech aged six.

Luke EganComment