Many Rivers to Cross
E te rangatira kua ngaro, e te reo o te iwi kua wahangu, e Ranginui, haere, haere, haere atu ra. E te uri o Te Whakatohea, ka tangi te ngakau ki a koe kua kapohia atu e te ringa kaha o aitua
“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere” (Emma Smith).
The Family Violence Death Review Committee, released its fifth report last week.
One of its findings was that currently, our system places all responsibility for stopping violence in the hands of an individual. The reports says that if we were to ‘reframe’ for a better response, agencies, practitioners, whānau and communities have the responsibility to ‘contain, challenge and intervene’ in their behaviour. Victim empowerment and safety should be collective endeavours.
The report asks for a new story, to ‘change the narrative about family violence in Aotearoa’. It recognises that structural inequities and ineffective responses to family violence compound the entrapment of victims and their families and whānau. As part of its stocktake, it depicts a complex road map representing the myriad of agencies currently involved in family violence services, programmes, legislative and policy instruments, and enforcement.
While there are hints at the potential for change, (“Kaupapa Maori conceptual models of family violence prevention offer transformative opportunities based on connecting with and strengthening Māori cultural traditions”) the report represents a missed opportunity in terms of keeping its focus in ‘strengthening organisations’ rather than directly working with whānau, or consultingthe Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies about ways in which to connect with those most affected by family violence – families.
How does this affect us in Te Waipounamu? At the inaugural People in Disasters conference, held in Christchurch 24-26 February, Canterbury police data revealed that in 2014/15 there were 10,108 family violence investigations undertaken by Canterbury police; a 10% increase from 2013/14. Women’s Refuge data shows even further, while in 2003, 848 women and children were receiving refuge services, by 2013 that number had almost doubled (1600). We have to get better at addressing the disasters that take shape in our own homes – and simply waiting for services to ‘reshape’ is not going to be the panacea for all.
For Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, we are driven by a set of outcomes which guide every arrangement we negotiate in our staff contracts, our relationships with navigators, coaches, commissioned initiatives, our sponsorship policy, our practice. A key one of those outcomes is to support whānau to be “cohesive, resilient and nurturing”. Another one is for whānau to be self-managing; another for whānau to be “living healthy lifestyles”. The absence of violence in our lives is an immediate and urgent priority if whānau are truly to experience that sense of ‘ora’; that reality of wellbeing that we all want.
Hīkoi ki te Tauihu
This week our whole team, took to the road, to spend time in Te Tauihu in the company of the eight iwi who have formed the visionary partnership from which Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu was born.
First call was to Whakatū Marae which hosts responsibility for six mana whenua iwi namely, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Tama and Te Ati Awa.
We then travelled to the tranquil beauty of Titiraukawa, in the land of Ngāti Kuia, close to the blissful waters of the Pelorus River.
As part of the 2010 Deed of Settlement, the Crown transferred the site at Pelorus Bridge in recognition of the traditional, historical, cultural and spiritual association for Ngāti Kuia. Is there anything more nourishing than to bathe in the crystal clear waters of a tupuna awa, knowing how hard the people have fought to once more exercise their rights of kaitiakitanga, rangatiratanga, protection and preservation of their own cultural heritage?
We had a treasured night in their company of Ngāti Kuia, including having the luxury of sharing time with one of their truly beautiful kuia, Whaea Elaine Wilson.
And then it was time to depart Titiraukawa, and travel to Parerarua in Blenheim, our next destination.
At Parerarua, recharged the batteries and even had a space to connect with the art of yoga, as we immersed ourselves in strategic planning for the commissioning year ahead. With 46 Whānau Ora Commissioning initiatives; 24 Navigators; 7 Whānau Enterprise Coaches and an ever-flowing stream of good ideas, we wanted to take some time to ensure our organization is up to speed; our project plans in place, our team united on the priority areas we need to strengthen. Just close to three years ago, Ngāti Rarua celebrated their Deed of Settlement at Parerarua Marae in Spring Creek. It was wonderful to be there, thinking about the significance of that day, and the optimism their people have brought to Whānau Ora.
The third day of our hīkoi saw us travel to Waikawa Marae in Picton, where we had a passionate hui with the people at the top of the South, Te Ati Awa, who live up to their mandate, “Mō, Moku mō ngā iwi katoa”. In their wharekai, ‘Whakakotahi’, we shared debate around some of the current and proposed initiatives in Wairau, including:
- Omaka Marae, Pa Ora, Pa Wananga
- Waikawa Marae : Poutama Ahi Kaa – facilitating positive change
- Tiramarama Mai : Keeping rangatahi at school(Maata Waka Trust ki te Tauihu)
- Te Hauora o Ngāti Rarua: Moving towards healthier eating habits and physical activity, through a Whānau Ora approach.
The next stop for Te Pūtahitanga this week, was Omaka Marae, for the Navigator’s Hui led by our Co-ordinator (or as she has been called, ‘the Navigator’s Navigator’), Maire Kipa. The five navigators of Te Tauihu came together to focus on the challenges, the opportunities and the support they can offer whānau in their journey to be self-determining.
The team of navigators who look after Te Tauihu at Omaka Marae, along with our contract advisor (Te Rā Morris) and Ann Martin, the Tumuaki of Te Awhina Marae o Motueka Society
Being in Wairau, was also a great chance to witness the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Marlborough Boys College and Maataa Waka Ki Te Tau Trust regarding the collective interest generated by the alternative education programme (Tiramarama Mai) targeted for rangatahi Māori who have disengaged with ‘mainstream’ schooling. The purpose of the Agreement is to work towards achieving the shared outcome of improving the social and educational outcomes for vulnerable students between the ages of 13 – 17 who have become severely disengaged from ‘mainstream’ schooling. It is a fantastic step forward, taking a Whānau Ora approach towards the educational and life prospects for our leaders of tomorrow.
We end our hīkoi to Te Tauihu, in Grovetown, at ‘Ukaipo’ – the conference centre of Te Rūnanga a Rangitane o Wairau Trust. Our Taumata are spending Saturday with our General Limited Partner Board, both boards refreshed with new members, and subsequently it is the right time to look anew at the foundation which established Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.
It was an incredible week of learning, of listening, of being on the land, in the waters, across the rohe of the iwi who know those tributaries, those trails, those hills and vales, as home. We felt humbled by the generosity of those who gave their time to us, that we may know the aspirations and dreams of whānau. With all appointments to our team complete, it was important that our new look team start this phase of the journey by returning to the visions of the iwi of Te Waipounamu, the foundation for Te Pūtahitanga.
Kei ngā uri o ngā iwi o Te Tauihu, kei ngā rangatira o te Taumata, nāia te mihi, nāia te oha ki a koutou katoa.