Finding our Path
“We must take time to define our own path; too quickly we can find the world defining the path for us”
This week we took a moment out on a beautiful Southern day to walk at Daffodil Bay, along a lush forest straddled by totara and mātai trees and overlooking the estuary by Noki Kaik beach. It was a moment of serenity, with our thoughts interrupted only the warmth of the sun streaming through the tree shade. It was a perfect moment to contemplate and consider some of the complexities of human nature.
Apparently, scientists have studied the muscles needed for facial expressions, and to do a small smile generally uses ten muscles; a small frown uses six. In other words, it is easier to show displeasure; to be critical – it takes more effort to be mana-enhancing, to be kind, to be positive.
In the pursuit of Whānau Ora, one of our maxims is that we try our best to be strengths focused; to concentrate on aspirations rather than our faults and failings. Personal attack, sustained criticism – even in jest, put-downs; sarcasm; focusing on our deficiencies – all of these behaviours are simply not consistent with an approach which genuinely endeavours to bring out the best in each other.
We can all be champions of the Whānau Ora approach. Next time you hear someone throw an insult; or you find yourself focusing on all that is wrong rather than everything that is right, take a breath and find another way to get a message across which leaves everyone’s integrity intact.
This week I have been more grateful than ever for the teachings of tikanga and the application of attitudes which inspire us to think about what unites us rather than what divides us. When we think about the ugly impact of violence; the traumatic scars of sexual abuse; the injuries caused by alcohol misuse, the tyranny of distance that leads to loneliness and isolation; we can get submerged in the environment of loss and sorrow.
In these times, more than ever, we need to be putting the work in to create the smile on the dial; to bring out the sunshine; to illuminate our strengths. In doing so, we will define a pathway of positivity that can lead us forward.
We were in Murihiku for the first of our focus group hui around children in care. The Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki is an independent review of the Government’s child protection agency Oranga Tamariki. The Inquiry responds to calls from whānau to address what they describe as the intergenerational harm of Māori whānau through, removal of tamariki from their whānau. There were some raw and tender stories shared at the hui; some harsh memories; narrative tinged with anger; case studies of sorrow but also of joy.
A range of issues emerged out of the kōrero including:
the role of kairaranga in helping to create safety for whānau
the need for whānau to access information prior to hui-a-whānau in order to make informed decisions;
a return to Matua Whāngai and the learnings it gives us about watching out and speaking up for all our children
strategies to enable a return to the days when “the village raised the child”
opportunities for whānau members to share experiences
the value of Navigators as advocates for whānau
Over 400 years of wisdom around this table, says Cyril!
The Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki
Next week; Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu hui will be held at the following locations:
Whakatū / Nelson, Tuesday 1 October, 10am-1pm, Victory Community Centre, 214 Vanguard Street.
Te Tai Poutini / West Coast, Wednesday 2 October, 10am-1pm, Poutini Ora, 62 Shakespeare Street, Greymouth.
The sun is always out in Te Tai Poutini
This week I had the honour of speaking to the Board and the Māori Partnership Board of the West Coast District Health Board. It was the first time in my life I had been able to start my presentation saying “in this very place I was born”. Grey Base Hospital was also the place my aunty was a charge nurse and my Pop convalesced after an amputation which led to his rapid decline in the quality of life. Thoughts of those who had passed before me were certainly with me as we spoke together, sharing our aspirations for leading healthy lifestyles.
We had a wonderful two hours talking about the particular challenges facing the Coast and how to support whānau in achieving their goals. Featured with Gina-Lee Duncan below is Megan Tahapeehi- and Kylie Parkin from the West Coast District Health Board.
While in Te Tai Poutini, we met at the old Westport Hospital, spending time with Poutini Waiora where we were charmed with the fabulous Rehia McDonald – recent star of the Westport news. Her energy is truly liberating. She has set herself a fitness task to ensure that she is going to be there for her mokopuna for years to come. She watches what she eats; she bikes to work; she swims and walks and loves life.
It was a privilege to spend a day with a group of wonderful West Coast women (pictured at the Bridge Club) who are working through the components of the Whānau Ora certificate. It is always such a boost for the soul when you hear about the lifegoals whānau are working towards; and the plans they are creating to make the changes they desire for the next generation.
Te Awa Koiea
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has been so excited and energized by the progress being made in the strengthening and revitalizing of the Roiti whānau tupuna whare. There were some beautiful experiences shared with our contract advisor, Marg Henry this week, as the whānau took her around the storage shed made by the builders and whanau using materials from the original whare tipuna. It was the first "building" to be erected as part of the restoration project of the whare tipuna.
Jenny Smith shared with Marg, "having this small shed built made the restoration of our whare tipuna a reality. It was a tearful moment shared by us all. Together we are revitalizing our connection with our whakapapa, our whenua, our traditions, our ancestors."
The tree in front of the shed stood next to the original whare tipuna. It was gifted to them by the people on the Chatham Islands.
The Roiti whānau have created an innovative maara kai from repurposing the regatta boat for a raised garden.
Flags were up at Puketeraki marae, a sign that manuhiri are onsite and the marae is in use. A photo of Hikiroroa maunga, and Kāti Huirapa rohe (marae red roof top down below).
Te Kai Hinaki - Moeraki Beach
Te Kai Hinaki is also the name that’s been used for the Moeraki Whanau Ora initiative, to coordinate wanaka for rakatahi and their whanau. This week, the whanau from Puketeraki took Marg to Moeraki. These photos she took are absolutely breath-taking in the beauty of this unique landscape.