Standing out in the cold


 The great philosopher Aristotle once said, “to appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it  is necessary to stand out in the cold”. I was trying to remind one of my team this week when we stopped at Kura Tawhiti, a space of special significance to Ngāi Tahu.   Kura Tāwhiti literally means “the treasure from a distant land”, referring to the kumara that was once cultivated in this region. Kura Tāwhiti was claimed by the Ngāi Tahu tupuna, Tane Tiki, son of celebrated chief Tuahuriri. The nearby mountains were famed for kakapo, and Tane Tiki wanted their soft skins and glowing green feathers for clothing to be worn by his daughter Hine Mihi.

But on this cold October day, as the dusk of night approached, I was trying to convince Golda that the only way to feel the mood of this unique place, was to breathe in the crisp mountain air, to truly gaze in wonder at the spectacular snow-frosted landscape – and that meant getting out of the car.   Golda wasn’t convinced.

I tried the same logic just down the road at the beautiful Moana Rua (Lake Pearson) – the wildlife refuge – home of the kamana - the southern crested grebe and other native waterfowl.   But no, she preferred the warmth of the car!

Sometimes standing out in the cold is what we need to get a fresh perspective.   To feel the tears, to face the sorrow, to hear the harrowing stories of grief tinged with anger, to recognise the impact of rage and resentment.   We had been travelling back from Te Tai Poutini where we spent the day at the whare of Poutini Ora in Greymouth, on our ongoing travels to hear from the views of whānau about the context of children in care.


Attending the hui are kaumātua, approved Oranga Tamariki caregivers, parents, aunties and uncles and grandparents of children who have been uplifted; whānau members speaking up for other whānau members, Whānau Ora Navigators, Māori community workers and social workers.   Some clear themes are emerging – the absolute importance of taking a whole whānau approach; that our tamariki being connected to whakapapa is absolutely pivotal to whānau wellbeing; that communication is key. The hui have told us that if there are gaps in the information that frustration will result.  As one whānau member said: 

“not having proper communication breeds mistrust between Oranga Tamariki and the whānau.   Whānau are always in fear, scared to ask for help”.

I found that such a sad statement – not to ask for help out of fear.   If there is anything that our hui can do to create safer spaces to hear, to heal, to help then we will be making a start to a stronger future.

Whānau Ora Navigators Michelle Gibson (Kati Waewae) and Karyn Anderson with Poutini Ora Chief Executive, Carl Hutchby.

Whānau Ora Navigators Michelle Gibson (Kati Waewae) and Karyn Anderson with Poutini Ora Chief Executive, Carl Hutchby.

Sid and Maire at the Oranga Tamariki hui in Greymouth

Sid and Maire at the Oranga Tamariki hui in Greymouth

Some of the participants at the hui at the Victory Community Centre in Nelson

Some of the participants at the hui at the Victory Community Centre in Nelson


From the Ngāti Koata Trust newsletter:

Takahia te Whenua ki Whangarae

We held our Takahia te Whenua wānanga down Whangarae, and what a major wairua buzz connecting with our people, places and taonga, forming very personal relationships with each other and with our taiao at Whangarae. 

We want to thank each and every one of those that came for your participation and contribution during our Takahia te Whenua wānanga. It was an absolute pleasure to share time, space and knowledge with you all to learn more about our tūpuna, their lifestyles, their kōrero tuku iho, and their special places. It was especially neat to meet new whanaunga, and learn about our connections to one another.   Whangarae is one of those special places that just became that little bit more precious to us all. The objectives of the Takahia te Whenua wānanga are to:

  1. Tūhono Tangata, Tūhono Taiao, Tūhono Taonga (connect our people, places and treasures);

  2. Whai ake i ngā tapuwae ā ō tātou mātua tūpuna (follow in the footsteps of our ancestors);

  3. Whakangako Ngāti Koatatanga (enhance our knowledge of Ngāti Koata customs and traditions);

  4. Whakahau Kaitiakitanga (learning to be responsible custodians of our treasures).

Louisa, aunty Joan, and Kimiora did a marvellous job of organising a spectacular event for us all to thrive, and to achieve all these objectives. Thank you very much to all three of you. He mihi aroha ki ngā kaiwhakahaere i whakaritea tō tātou haerenga.

Much respect also to our haukāinga who shared so much of their knowledge and generosity. Your manaaki is overwhelming, and very very much appreciated by us all. Thank you very much!

We had a fantastic group that jelled so naturally from start to finish. It was short enough to leave us wanting more; but long enough to enjoy our surroundings

Takahia te Whenua is a biannual event so that whānau are able to take their own families back to those places in the alternate year to share what they have learnt. In this way, participants become custodians of that mātauranga and have a responsibility to nurture, protect and enhance our Ngāti Koatatanga.

Click on the links below to watch some videos of our wānanga. Thank you Keelan for putting these amazing kiriata together. You have caught the wairua of our group.

Ngā mihi ki Te Pūtahitanga! Nā rātou te pūtea tautoko. Tēnā koutou katoa!

Mātakitaki mai! Click here to watch Takahia te Whenua Part I

Mātakitaki mai! Click here to watch Takahia te Whenua Part II

On Friday, Sampson Karst, Rangimarie Parata-Takurua and I spent a few wonderful hours with the students from Te Akatoki – Māori students association at the University of Canterbury.  Our collective focus was on leadership.


 “To be no-one but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you just like everyone else, means to fight the greatest battle there is ever will be”.    ee cummings – 

Sampson shared the excitement and the adrenalin rush that is Aoraki Bound; Rangimarie shared with us the joy of understanding your strengths based on self-reflection.   It was a message that I also echoed in my address: the importance of letting your lived experience guide you; establishing a strong sense of self; and promoting what Rangimarie described as Big Heart leadership : where the head and the heart work together.

Rangimarie concluded her address with an inspirational message from the visionary 80 year old leadership of Tā Tipene O’Regan:

If we’re going to have a horizon of our own, we’ve got to design our response in terms of who we want to be as a people, and how we want to grow.   It’s got to be ours.   

Koha Kai 

We have been delighted to learn that Koha Kai was named as the three finalists in the Te Waipounamu category for the 2019 Māori Women in Business Awards along with Waka Abel Tasman (Motueka), and RCG Group Limited (Christchurch).   All three are Whānau Ora entities that Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has supported– and all three are all in the running for the awards which are being held on 19 October at Te Puia in Rotorua.

Koha Kai, led by Janice Lee, is focused on creating social transformation within the disability sector through meaningful employment and education leading to nationally recognised qualifications. Their ‘Lunches in Schools’ initiative has enabled them to establish new business relationships, access pathways and infuse te reo rangatira throughout their work environment. Koha Kai has been able to partner with primary schools who give the use of their kitchens for trainees to cook in, in exchange for a healthy lunch option sold to students at an affordable price. Koha Kai has also expanded its operations to include growing their own produce and selling meals to the wider community.

Koha Kai gives workers purpose, life skills, and social skills that enable them to live truly valued, integrated and independent lives as fully contributing members of our community. That way, Koha Kai contributes to improving the health and well-being of people with disabilities. ‘Lunches in Schools’ also addresses child poverty and child hunger, pertinent after rising living costs in the region. Koha Kai has also developed their own maara kai/community garden to reduce costs while at the same time build the resilience, capability and confidence of whānau. Te reo Māori is used throughout their approach to support the values and principles driven by Māori concepts of awhi (help) tautoko (support) and manaakitanga (hospitality).

An exciting milestone has recently been achieved with the opening of their own purpose-built kai trailer. The acquisition of the asset has come about through community partnerships and support they’ve been able to build throughout their initiative. The trailer is designed to enable Koha Kai trainees, with disabilities to be able to operate, and serve up top class food and beverage to their community.

This week, three of our team, Sue, Vania and Karyn had the honour of attending the Graduation ceremony for Koha Kai trainees and have sent back these amazing photos of the night at the Invercargill Working Men’s Club, this Thursday night.

Koha kai 3.jpg
Koha kai 1.jpg
koha kai 2.jpg

Coming up this week :

the last three hui for the Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki

  • Ōtepoti/Dunedin, Wednesday 7 October 1-4pm, Te Roopu Tautoko Ki Te Tonga Inc, 6 Wolseley Street.

  • Ōtautahi/Christchurch,  Tuesday 8 October, 4-7pm, 79 Springfield Road Rehua Marae.   

  • Wairau / Blenheim, Wednesday 9 October, 10am-2pm, Maata Waka, Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust,  56 Main Street.

RSVP:, 0800 187 689

We end this week with the fabulous news of the winners of the Whānau Ora rural workforce project, fresh from the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra.

Lee Brown and Tamihana Karauria (above)  Zain-Star Kavanagh and her tamariki (below)

Lee Brown and Tamihana Karauria (above)

Zain-Star Kavanagh and her tamariki (below)


Berneece Boyd and her mokopuna

Luke EganComment