When Caitlin Sowden reached the banks of the Waimea River, she discarded her socks and shoes and plunged into the cool waters. She felt the call; that led her to the river, to immerse herself; to soothe the soul. It reminds me that the best rongoa in life does not come in a bottle – sunshine, air, water, warmth are just as healing; rest and respite kiss the soul in ways that energise and vitalise; nurture and sustain. This week, Caitlin and I joined Dave Johnson, and Vicky Thorne from Ngati Kuia; with Dr Lorr Eade, in a site visit to the lands at Appleby in Nelson. We were hosted by Dave Wickham, Mary-Ellen and Josephine O’Connor, as they showed us through the beautiful lands that are connected through to Pearl Creek.
It was a truly beautiful day; where the birds joined in on our karakia; where pukeho frolicked in the fields; where the sun-glistened waters mesmerised us into a period of reflection. In Ngati Kuia’s landmark research, He Maunga Pakohe Rautaki Hauora, it says “The type of interaction whānau have with the environment has been identified consistently in existing research as crucial for hauora. This has been attributed to the close relationship Māori have to the environment, as well as the impacts the environment can have on physical hauora, such as kai-gathering and clean waterways.”
During lockdown we had Kiri Williams and Monica Lei join the team to create a referral system for whānau who had requested the support of a Whānau Ora Navigator. In the two weeks of Alert Level 4, 1,000 applications met the criteria, and of those, 240 have still expressed an interest.
We also stood up our Kai Hub, allowing our Navigators to use a four-question form to order kai for their whānau to be picked up within a couple of days.
Donations from wholesalers, The Food Network and local businesses made this possible, as well as rotating the mahi including packing the boxes and deliveries between the NavNation.
Over 500 kai bpacks have been made to date, and over 80 cubic metres of firewood has been sourced.
This work continues, and just this week our amazing Navengers were in Temuka, making a delivery of kai to Arowhenua Whānau Services to distribute to their whānau.
This week we received an incredible milestone report from Te Whare Puāwai o Tokomairaro, whose work in Milton continues despite some immense personal challenges facing their team.
The team have now had 15 rangatahi participate in three two-day barbering wānanga. Three facilitators shared their life journeys and the self-determination that gained them the lifeskills that brought them to where they are today, from stories of addiction and homelessness to the recovery that led to them co-owning a barbershop.
This is in addition to ongoing hunting wānanga – small sessions with rangatahi tāne and local kaumātua and mentors. The team have seen a significant change in their attitudes, decision-making skills and resilience, and parents and school teachers are noticing a difference. Listening, reading, whakapapa of the land, teamwork, mindfulness, fitness, how to catch, carry and process their kai.
Feedback from rangatahi participants: