For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.

Kahlil Gibran

A kuia that came to pay her respects to Mum, as she lay at our home awaiting her final journey, giggled with delight to see Mum wearing her favourite slippers.   ‘Well I never’, our kuia said, ‘now I’ve seen it all’.

The way in which we farewell our loved ones is one of the treasured processes that represent the life they lived.  We think carefully about the special taonga we place with them; the little notes popped in their hand; the colourful pictures from mokopuna; the vibrant purple scarf; the bush socks, the soldier’s beret, the immaculate white handkerchief in the pocket – all the signs and symbols of the character we gather to mourn.   We want them to be immortalised as their best self.   I have heard the aunties say, ‘when it’s my time, please give my eyebrows/chin/upper lip a quick pluck’; others have deliberately chosen their final outfit so that right to the last moment on earth; they make a statement we will not forget. 

And so, when Tane Grigg, working with Te Ora Hou Otautahi, came forward with an application for ‘forever beds’ during the course of Wave 11, I knew that his thinking came from a place of love.

Mahuta Made is both a means to establish their whānau business while supporting any whānau to provide another option to elevate some of the financial burden during times of grief. Forever beds are created by whānau for whānau. 




The motivation Tane brings to MahutaMade is eloquently expressed in these words:

‘MahutaMade is the whakapapa of my whānau beginning with me. For as long as I can remember, I have loved creating with wood. I have always been inspired to forge my ideas into reality.  I’ve done this mahi my whole life and growing with the talents of my whānau beside me, together we are MahutaMade.


A few years ago my father-in-law became increasingly ill, in a way that would become too hard for him to recover. As most Māori men of his generation, he of course didn’t want to talk about or would joke and laugh at off or tell us all different things. As time moved on it became more urgent to start making plans and I was approached by mother-in-law to create dad’s Casket. This honour had been given to me.


When I was designing, needed to take a few things into consideration. Mum is in a wheel chair full time and required the design to be accessible for her. I have attended many tangihanga and have often felt awkward saying farewell over the high sides of a casket. After many hours of designing in my shed, the  Forever Bed was created.. At the same time our whānau had the tough task of helping Mum plan Dad’s Tangi. This is something we hadn’t done before and the whole process was an eye opener into the many extra costs that whanau are taking on board.   We can have lovely farewells without going into debt. With whanau having more of a say in the planning of funerals and understanding some of the costs involved. They can still be a dignified, respectful and mana enhancing  experience, for 

quarter of the cost of what is offered and recommended directly from funeral homes.   





What I love about the Forever Bed initiative has been the way in which the whānau have been able to bring their tamariki together to be part of the project and help each other out.  As they journey in their new enterprise they are making new connections, working alongside other Maāori businesses; and refining business skills that they didn’t know they needed to know.  They have had to present the concept to whānau; and develop multiple approaches along the way including having the confidence to share their story.

Ka mau te wehi Mahutamade.





NCEA and the Whānau

This week and next, all across the motu, whānau are supporting young and old to returning to school.   For rangatahi, understanding NCEA empowers whānau and their rangatahi to make informed choices about their career pathways.  To help with this, NZQA offers NCEA and the whānau workshops for free.  NZQA coordinates and provides a facilitator for the workshops, which can be hosted by your school, church, community or education organisation.

To find out when a workshop will be happening near you, or to learn more about hosting a workshop, please email

Reclaiming Paradise: Rakiura Bound

It has been a lifetime dream to travel to Te Punga o Te Waka a Māui – the anchor of the waka that is Rakiura/Stewart Island.   As yet, my experience has been been vicarious – through the eyes of others.     And so it was that last Sunday, Joanne Pera and Vanessa Whangapirita from our team traversed Te Ara a Kiwa, the stretch of water that is abundant with mahinga kai – rich resources of bird life and fish.    Although as they told me later, Foveaux Strait was also a bit of a bumpy ride, as they negotiated three metre swells.

Literally rides the waves on the way to the wave workshop!

But how special are these photographs…..we await their applications with great excitement






Fond Farewells to Ripeka Hook

The compass rose is nothing but a star with an infinite number of rays pointing in all directions.It is the one true and perfect symbol of the universe. And it is the one most accurate symbol of you. Spread your arms in an embrace, throw your head back, and prepare to receive and send coordinates of being. For, at last you know—you are the navigator, the captain, and the ship”.   Vera Nazarian


Ripeka (1).JPG


The role of a Navigator is not for the faint-hearted.   Some of our whanau have harrowing lives, where they feel as if they are tumbling fast, head-over-heels in a spin that leaves them breathless.  It is at times like that that Navigators come into their own – they help to remind our whanau of their wonder; they sit alongside them as they right the wrongs, turn the tide, steer a new direction.

This week, Maataa Waka ki te Tau ihu bid farewell to the wonderful Ripeka Hook.  As General Manager, Emma-Jaye King said, “We want to acknowledge her valuable contribution to the whanau ora kaupapa, as she has some amazing skills which have achieved many positive outcomes for whanau that she has supported and journeyed alongside”.

I have loved seeing the way that Ripeka has always reaches out to grow.    I want to leave the last space for her, in her reflections on taking part in taku reo rahiri:

“The learnings from our first noho have had a big effect on myself, my own whanau and the whanau I mahi with. It’s kind of hard to describe but I feel like I am better equipped to recognise the potential in the whanau I mahi with and am more open to the guidance I receive that helps awhi whanau to unlock this for themselves.   I am so excited about the potential of the noho yet to come, and I feel like this wananga is a pathway for myself to reconnect to and fulfil my own divine purpose. When we have an opportunity to do this as a collective…. Well I think it may be world saving!”

World-saving is a tall order Ripeka, but I have every confidence that you are up for the challenge!  Our best wishes to you and your whanau in your next adventure..

Calling all Te Reo Māori champions – Toi Reo Māori wānanga start in February 2021! 

Kei te kimi Toa Reo Māori matatau rawa ki te reo Māori me te reo Ingarihi e hiahia ana ki te whai wāhi mai ki ngā whakangungu, ki ngā whakamātautau hoki mō Te Toi Reo Māori 2021. He mea nui kia mārama ngā kaiwhakauru ki te hiranga o te mahi whakamāori, kia tika, kia rere, kia Māori rawa te reo o roto.

Mehemea kei te hiahia whai wāhi tonu mai, ā, kei te hiahia ako hoki i raro i ngā tohunga matatau kia whiwhi ai koe i te tiwhikete kaiwhakamāori ā-waha, ā-tuhi hoki/rānei, tēnā, whakakīia mai ai te puka e whai ake nei.

Hei te marama o Huitanguru/Pepuere 2021 ka tīmata te wānanga.  Kāore he utu.  Ka whakahaerehia i runga ipurangi, i ngā Rāhoroi me ngā Rātapu. Ka tukuna he whakamātautau i mua i te tīmatanga o ngā wānanga kia mōhio pai ai mātou ki ō pūkenga – e kore tēnei e mākangia, mā te tari anake tēnei whakamātautau.  Ka whakahaerehia ngā whakamātautau whakamutunga hei te marama o Haratua/Mei.  Ka īmērahia atu ētahi atu kōrero hei te mutunga o Kohitātea/Hanuere.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori are looking for Toa Reo Māori, who have a high proficiency in te reo Māori and English who are interested in participating in our Toi Reo Māori wānanga in 2021. It’s crucial that participants understand the importance of translations so they’re correct, they flow and are Māori.

If you’re interested in becoming a qualified translator and learning from experienced tutors please fill out the following form.

The wānanga will start in February 2021. They are free. They will be held online, during weekends. You will also need to complete a pre-assessment before the first wānanga – this assessment isn’t marked, it’s for internal use only. The final exams will be in May. More information with confirmed dates will be emailed by the end of January.

Toi Reo Māori application form

 Kia tau tōu hinengaro. Parent to Parent: support for whānau caring for tamariki with disabilities

Caring for disabled tamariki or tamariki with a health impairment can be challenging for parents, caregivers and whānau. Now could be the ideal time to set yourself and your whānau up for the year ahead. Parent to Parent have a range of activities coming up in your rohe to support you and your whānau:

  • Renew, Connect & Reflect workshops are free and available nationwide. These workshops provide helpful tools to cope with stress, change, and strengthen whānau resilience.

    If you are new to the world of disability, this is an opportunity to develop new tools for your kete and widen your support network. If you’ve been on this journey awhile and need a refresher, come along, whakatau tōu hinengaro and replenish your kete!

  • Parent and whānau Coffee Groups allow parents and whānau a chance to connect in a relaxed environment with other whānau in your community who understand your journey.

  • Sibshops are dedicated to tamariki and rangatahi who have a sibling with an impairment or disability. It’s a fun filled day uniquely focused on their needs where they can connect with other kids who ‘get it’. They learn practical tips and strategies to help them thrive in their own whānau environment. The SibShops are incredibly popular so get in quick!

Your whānau must be eligible for disability support services to attend this workshop. Please contact Parent to Parent if you are unsure of your eligibility.

Training to be our best

This week Kylie-Jane headed South to Uruuruwhenua, Tokomairiro, Murihiku and Otepoti, to catch up with the amazing souls that are Navigators; to support them in their mahi.





We are so privileged to have fifty Partners across Te Waipounamu who provide the every day base for the navigators to soar – they support their professional development, their employment needs; they enable Navigators to have others to unload their days with; they create a platform of safety and sustenance where our Navigators can refresh and renew; to keep their practice tight.

We always know it is an awesome opportunity to support our partners by providing some Navigator-wide opportunities for professional development.   They are a great bunch – time with our NavNation is always time well spent – where the laughter still rings in your ears long after you return home; the tears are fresh; and the hearts are full of the stories shared in confidence and courage.

Thank you to our partners and navigators; for weaving the thread of ‘ora’ across all our whānau.