Have you ever walked into a room where a newborn baby has captured everyone’s attention, their every sound triggers immediate response. ‘Hōmai te tamaiti ki ōku ringa, a, māku ia e hiki’ – pass me that baby, she is calling to be in my arms.
I have been thinking about that phenomenon – the call that inspires us to action – as the newsfeed this week has reflected on the situation for children we describe as ‘in care’; the children that in yesteryear we used to describe as ‘wards of the state’. The term ‘state ward’ describes the circumstances of being placed under the legal protection of a guardian. It is a concept that has some similarities with kaupapa such as manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga, whanaungatanga – except a key difference is that of the rights and responsibilities inherent with whakapapa. The question that has been on my mind is what will it take for all of us to respond to the needs of our children in a way which enables them to thrive, to grow, to be secure in a sense of who they are?
Whanau Ora is the expression of that call that inspires us to action in a way which protects and respects the whānau as the foundation of our communities. It picks up on the opportunities that come through whakapapa responsibilities. Its starting point is whānau as the building blocks for transformation.
Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the Commissioning Agency for Whanau Ora across Te Waipounamu, knows that it is through whānau that our most enduring solutions will be found. We look to whānau for ideas and inspiration whether it be in the basic ingredients for a healthy life or the grand plan for survival into the future. At this point in our journey we walk alongside of eighteen commissioning initiatives (what we call the commissioning pipeline) and five whānau and community development approaches. Each of these initiatives is unique in their own right but united through a common focus on wellbeing for their whānau.
Over the next few weeks my wish is that we can bring some of the stories to you from each of these initiatives. They are stories of hope demonstrating the powerful motivation that comes when the answers are in the hands of the people. They offer insights into enlightenment – what is it that turns the curve, that makes a difference for whānau? Whether it be in the healing potential of maara kai or the promise of our newborn babies or the potential of young people on the brink of their career paths, Te Putahitanga is excited by the diverse approaches that whānau are taking to create a stronger future.
Hikina o Tatou Reo is one means by which we hope we can show the multitude of ways in which whānau are responding to the call to action. We hope that in doing so, the call reverberates throughout Te Waipounamu, enabling more stories to be told, more voices to be heard. No reira i tenei wa, ko te tumanako, ma to tatou reo me ona tikanga tatou e arahi ki tetahi ao hou.