Isn't she lovely

This week we had a fabulous workshop with mokopuna ora entities – those who are working specifically on initiatives to support our most precious babies between the ages of 0- 5 years old.  One of the resources we looked at was Whakatipu – an active kaupapa Māori child development kit designed to encourage all of us to protect and preserve every stage of the development of the seed of new life.

Whakaata Tohutohu; Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora and Awarua Whanau Services are all working in the space of Mokopuna Ora

Whakaata Tohutohu; Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora and Awarua Whanau Services are all working in the space of Mokopuna Ora


Inevitably we shared stories of our own pregnancy and birthing experiences.   This time of year is always very special for me. Every time I glance upon the vivid explosion of colour of the tulip I cast my mind back to the purple, red and sunshine yellows of the tulips of springtime 1998.   That was the season into which our first born emerged.

We had the most beautifully crafted birthing plan.  Gentle candlelight would bathe her entrance into the world; she would be serenaded into our lives with Stevie Wonder singing ‘isn’t she lovely’ on the cassette player; and we had a range of soothing oils to caress this little life into the arms of her whānau who would be gathered around.

Well it didn’t quite work to plan.  About 4am the light touch of labour pains rapidly evolved into an internal tsunami.  In our rush we left everything behind but the birthing team. We drove frantically into the hospital, arriving just in time for our baby to be born just after 6am.

Stevie wasn’t there, or the candles, but the celebration of that moment will stay with me forever; a moment that with every memory brings out the tears.   Ultimately that moment – and the moments of all our children as they enter into the world – is a time to treasure whakapapa; to feel the blessings of the generations before us; the rush of fresh optimism for the life journey to come.

Sometimes in the busy myriad of meetings and workplans, we run the risk of lifetime moments escaping from under us.   We think we need to have everything planned to the last detail; that there’s no time to relax until the task is done.

The sight of tulips always takes me back with a jolt to that springtime dawn and reminds me to count my blessings.   


Celebration was on our agenda this week, with the whare overflowing with white, purple and green balloons.

  • white for purity in public as well as private life,

  • purple for dignity and self-respect and

  • green for hope and new life

We decided to celebrate 125 years since women gained the right to vote, by releasing a series of affirmations from the women of Whānau Ora.   

We produced a series of beautiful postcards, which gained an image and an affirmation of some of our wahine who are developing initiatives through the context of Te Pūtahtinaga o Te Waipounamu funding.

This is what I said at the event we held on Wednesday night.

“Words of truth appear to reach us best through the heart.   Our stories help us to process experience; to learn from history; to be healed by the narratives passed from one generation to the next.

Each of us has a story blossoming out of us that makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.   

Stories helps us to live a life worth remembering; to light a candle even on the darkest night; to break the silence; to conquer fear; to ensure our past is never forgotten but that we forge a new future, informed by the stories of our blood and bones.

This event was created to contribute to story-making in our own times.   Amongst the many gifts of tonight, are some postcards with words of inspiration from some of the Whānau Ora ambassadors this event honours.   

We want you to use those cards to write to another woman who inspires you – to thank them for the difference they are making; to let them know their story matters; their contribution is being felt.   

When you leave this event tonight we encourage you to write a note to a woman who has influenced you; a woman whom you admire; a woman you know is taking brave steps in their journey and your words may make all the difference in crossing the line between hope and despair.

And in case you needed any reminding of the wonderful wahine who are weaving a Whānau Ora approach across their world, have a look at some of these gorgeous faces:


Hikoi Waewae climbs a new step

Suffrage Night was also a good opportunity to launch a fabulous new video featuring another wahine explorer, Rauhine Coakley and the whānau of Hikoi Waewae.

Hīkoi Waewae is about discovering and connecting to the whenua and traditional pathways of Ngati Waewae. The tours offer a range of activities that focus on elements of te ao Māori that hold historical significance for Ngāti Waewae. What began as a Whānau Ora Initiative to build culture and the wellbeing of whānau and hapū has now launched into a tourism business to provide a unique cultural experience, the first of its kind on the West Coast.

For bookings go to
or follow them on Facebook


Hauora at Haeata

On Wednesday over three hundred rangatahi gathered at Haeata Community Learning College for the next rendition of Mana-Wa.

‘Tohaina o painga ki te Ao - share your gifts with the world.’

Te Putahitanga will continue  to share the gifts and talents of local initiatives, key note speakers and their stories of resilience and connectedness to Te Ao Māori as a Whānau Ora approach to building strength in all our rangatahi.

The workshops were fun, interactive opportunities designed for rangatahi to experience and express notions of mana through identity, culture, creativity, physical activity, personal style and storytelling.  Workshops are about generating energy and positivity through movement and creativity. Mana Wā is a great backdrop for key messaging around suicide prevention and Whānau Ora.

A highlight of the day was the reflections shared by Nort Beauchamp; a local professional boxer (brought up in Rowley Avenue) with an amazing kōrero about his journey of dreaming big and love for his whānau!

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2019 09 20 Haeata 3pm.jpg

Rangatahi Magic at Manu Korero

How fabulous were all the livefeeds coming out of Gisborne this week for the national Nga Manu Korero competitions.

A very special Te Waipounamu congratulations to Kiringaua Cassidy (Kings High School, Dunedin; second in the nation for Te Rāwhiti Ihaka (Junior Māori Awards).

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Next Wednesday 26th September 2018, come along to Rehua Marae, Otautahi for a special breakfast, 7.30am to 9.30am.

Koha proceeds go towards Prostate Cancer

The campaign has been developed to create awareness among tāne of the risks and symptoms of prostate cancer and to encourage regular check-ups.

‘Wero your Tero’ is a community project which has been funded by Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu and Pharmac in response to Māori men being twice as likely to be diagnosed with the metastatic disease than non-Māori. Research shows that one man every three hours will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in New Zealand, and that’s eight men every day, 3000 every year.

Dancing on a Razor’s Edge

This week I had the privilege of meeting with author, Mandy Whyte, shortly before she addressed addiction workers in Christchurch on 20 September, hosted by Doug Sellman.

Mandy Whyte told me that many families in New Zealand and Australia are being devastated by meth addiction with little relief.  She believes in empowering families to act on behalf of their loved ones, instead of keeping them out of the picture by invoking privacy laws, and wants to see drug users and their families dealt with through the health system rather than the justice system.


Professor Doug Sellman, Director of the National Addiction Centre in Christchurch, has endorsed Mandy Whyte’s book. He says: ‘Every addiction worker in Australasia would do well to read this book for the descriptions of this mother’s determined struggle to do the best for her addicted son, her fraught attempts to access the services she needs, and her criticism of a system that demands people take personal responsibility for their addictions when they are often unable to do so.’


Tu Pono: Whānau Ora Campaign Comes to Waikawa Marae

Tū Pono ki Te Tau Ihu community project team has called a hui at Waikawa Marae on 26 September at 3.30pm to support local whānau to eliminate violence.  

Richard Bradley, Richard Bradley is project manager for Tū Pono ki Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Māui says “the aim of the Tu Pono approach is to dispel the notion that violence and all forms of harmful behaviour within whanau should be accepted as normal or traditional Maori behaviour.”

“Having the support of nationally respected leaders such as Ta Mark and Whaea Tariana gives whanau the confidence that our iwi leaders are promoting the changes in behaviour needed to protect our mothers and children” he added.

This desire to challenge the normalisation of violence within whanau led to the development of Tū Pono. Designed and led by whanau, the approach has gained momentum in Te Waipounamu through support from Whānau Ora commissioning agency Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu who work with key influencers within whānau and communities to lead the campaign.

Luke EganComment