The Pebble in your shoe

Muhammed Ali once said “It isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you down, it’s the pebble in your shoe”.

It reminds me of the oft-quoted whakataukī from Dr Rangitakuku Metekingi of Whanganui, “Ko te pae tawhiti whaia kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tina”; seek to bring distant horizons closer, and sustain and cherish those that have been arrived at.   In short, it reminds us, that while we must always have a vision to aspire towards, we have to tend to the here and now, the issues up front and personal and close to home. In other words we need to be inspired by the vision and galvanised by the reality of every day.  

I’ve been thinking of those words as we head into a hui this weekend, regarding the performance of the state agency responsible for children in care, Oranga Tamariki.    While our vision must surely be that every child is loved unconditionally, connected to their whānau, hapū, iwi; flourishing in their identity; safe, strong and sure of themselves, the reality is that we are not there yet.   We have to concentrate on everything we can do to dismantle the issues that trouble us; to unravel layers of bureaucracy and get to the hub of the issue – how do we best support our children to know that every child is loved; every child is precious.

Section 7AA makes ti clear what all of our priorities must be in relation to children in care: Mana tamariki; whakapapa and whanaungatanga.   It is a fundamental shift from an orientation which was firmly focused only on the best interests of the child, to instead make the case that the best interests of the child must be understood within the context of their unique genealogy; and their wider whānau around them.  I am so proud of that legislative mandate – and my greatest wish is that it becomes seen as the norm – that every child is considered in the context of their wider whānau and the genealogical construct that gave them life.

Kura Reo Wānanga – Rangitane o Wairau

This week whānau have been enjoying a range of learning opportunities in Wairau to begin or continue their reo journey. Whānau from all over Aotearoa attended the four day wānanga based at the truly beautiful whare, Ukaipo, the Rangitane o Wairau conference centre.

“It takes only one generation to lose a language and at least three generations to restore that language"

Te Ataarangi Te Tau Ihu is an entity that we have been very supportive of as they work with whānau to make a real impact on Māori language revitalisation. Te Ataarangi is well-known for the use of coloured cuisenaire rods as a learning tool.  It's an effective language-learning technique that encourages you to speak.  It has supported more than 50,000 people to speak Māori in homes and communities.   Now that’s a pretty formidable fact to put it in your kete!

We have also been able to support Rangitane o Wairau through our Wave funding to deliver their te reo strategy to their iwi and their wider community.   This week certainly saw the benefits of that investment flourish in the hearts and minds of the whānau they are set up to serve. Ka mau te wehi!

Te Korou Whangataua and Jeremy MacLeod at the launching of Te Kura Reo o Rangitane o Wairau, a new venture aimed at achieving the dream of revitalising our native language that has been missing for many generations.

Te Korou Whangataua and Jeremy MacLeod at the launching of Te Kura Reo o Rangitane o Wairau, a new venture aimed at achieving the dream of revitalising our native language that has been missing for many generations.


   Launch of Kahukura Pounamu

One of our Wave 8 initiatives, Kahukura Pounamu, took up the promise and hope of Matariki to establish their identity, their name and their presence.

This initiative has certainly put in the work to get themselves out there.  They established Te Mana Whakahaere o Te Kahukura Pounamu, their operational leadership group: Rāwā Karetai, Mana, Maire Kipa, Mahina Kingi Kaui, Jynine Berryman.

They have set themselves up as a Charitable Trust and registered with the Companies Office; they have registered with the Department of Internal Affairs and elected a Kahui Kaitiaki (Board of trustees) - Teoti Jardien, Karen Mills and Alexander Davis; have opened a business account with Kiwibank and then set about the real work – of getting their community connections up and running.

I am exhausted just looking at what they have established over the last few months!

  • Whānau Breakfast at Kai Kitchen 

A community connection event where whānau could meet in a different part of the city - out in East Christchurch.

  • Whānau Kai at the Exchange 

Another whānau event for whakawhānaungatanga and making connections 

  • Hui at Te Whare Hauora 

A community hui to strengthen the connection with our Women’s Refuge network and the wahine involved with this. 

  • Hui with Liz Kerekere 

A consultation opportunity where Liz, a leader in the national  takatāpui sphere, met to consult with mana whenua around a takatāpui ‘peak’ organisation. 

  • Te Tihi o Kahukura 

A hui  was held immediately before Pride week with 21 organisations from across Canterbury which were representatives of a wide range of groups who work with the gender and sexuality diverse community. 

  • ILGA Conference 

Representation of indigenous and Kaitahu members at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

  • Teoti Jardine – Poetry session

We held a whānau gathering where we had a reading by one of the Trustees of Kahukura Pounamu and resident poet Teoti Jardine. 

  • Music sessions in the community 

Mahina Kingi Kaui is a master instrumentalist with many of our Māori instruments. She has been able to connect to wider networks and share her huge knowledge through workshops with our rangatahi and whānau.

  • Aids Foundation Launch – Great Hall, Arts Centre

This gathering was part of a series of national hui U=U, with a touring international expert promoting undetectable viral loads and how this means that the HIV virus is untransmittable. As the Māori community features disproportionately in HIV infection statistics, to have a presence there was important for our community. 

The launch of Kahukura Pounamu at the foot of Te Tihi o Kahukura in the midst of Matariki was critical to their identity as Māori.  The group believed that to have takatāpui visibility during this period of celebration is crucial. It was a truly glorious morning – clear blue skies; a warmth in the wind, and such a wonderful gathering of mokopuna and grandparents, groovy rangatahi (they would hate me describing them as such!) and the ever effervescent Mika who can make a party happen out of any event.   The kōrero was true to the cause of whakawhanaungatanga; of unity; of celebrating difference and valuing each other.


Sorted Kāinga Ora 

The Commission for Financial Capability is partnering with Te Puni Kokiri to delivered Sorted Kāinga Ora: a financial capability programme to support whānau in achieving their housing aspirations.   Some 300 whānau will be able to benefit from accessing Sorted Kāinga Ora workshops.

Home ownership has been associated with a whole range of positive impacts – improved health and education outcomes for tamariki; financial resilience and even stronger links to the community.  At the end of the eight week programme graduates will have a better understanding of their housing aspirations whether that be:

  • ready to move into home ownership,

  • needing to grow their savings, or

  • wanting to continue renting a home.

To find out more about the Sorted Kāinga Ora programme go to

Mokopuna Ora

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, through the Mokopuna Ora fund, is committed towards supporting whānau to build their own capability to positively parent tamariki. We have partnered with whānau to build more protective factors around whänau and tamariki. We also focus on the need for children 0 to five years to thrive so that they can be well developed through their lives.

This report identifies the highlights and challenges for the entities.

The initiatives are:

  1. Arowhenua Whānau Services, Te Muka: Arowhenua

  2. Awarua Whānau Services, Invercargill

  3. Kaikaiawaro Charitable Trust Ngāti Kuia, Nelson 

  4. Noku Te Ao: Christchurch 

  5. Aroha Ki Te Tamariki Trust, Whakaata Tohu, Dunedin 

  6. Ārai Te Uru Whare Hauora Ltd, Dunedin 

The projects range from 

  • developing whānau centre plans incorporating a kaupapa Māori version of the Circle of Security, Porowhita Tapu;

  •  strengthening matua/tamariki relationship programme

  • educators producing Kāi Tahu/Ōtākou centred resources,

  • producing future Māori speaking early childhood kaiako, to 

  • home based whānau-driven early childhood initiative and to 

  • developing resilient parenting skills and working with the whānau.

Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora, Dunedin

Ārai Te Uru Whare Hauora is continuing to work alongside of Aroha Ki Te Tamariki Trust and Awarua Whanau Services in taking a Mokopuna Ora approach in this new initiative supported by Oranga Tamariki through Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu. 

In the series of 10 July reports that came in this week, I was taken by one report of an event to launch the Mama and Pepi group in Dunedin on the 28th May 2019. One Mama has taken a leadership role to facilitate the group and another Mama did all the catering. The common theme among the Mama was isolation: being at home with their tamariki and many not having whanau support during this unique time in their lives.

The winter months have proved challenging and there have been a number of Mokopuna Ora whanau requiring support for Family Works Food Parcel referrals. This reflects the current economic climate for many of the whanau who engage in services, who are either on low income wages or receiving Work and Income assistance. The house shortages and increased rental rates etc continue to create pressure for whanau.  In such difficult times, it is a pleasure to see the joy that coming together in initiatives like Mokopuna Ora is able to create.

Resources gifted to whanau including Otakou created Reo Pepi books

Resources gifted to whanau including Otakou created Reo Pepi books

Mama and Pēpi group

Mama and Pēpi group

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Luke EganComment