“True pacifism,” or “nonviolent resistance,” according to the late Dr Martin Luther King is “a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love” (King, Stride, 80).

Love is not often talked about when we talk about violence.

But in the launching of Te Aorerekura at Te Papa this week, that was the word the Minister, Hon Marama Davidson used.   She talked about the right for children to be loved; she expressed her own sense of love and appreciation for all those who had helped her to be able to launch this national strategy for the elimination of family violence and sexual violence.

Te Aorerekura itself is driven by the “ensuring spirit of affection” based on interactions between toiora (enduring); wairua (spirit) and aroha (affection).

The strategy goes further and provides a ‘guiding light’ which:

  • Affirms that people impacted by family violence and/or sexual violence are not alone; people are connected to and sustained by the aroha of their ancestors, whānau and communities;
  • Provides a beacon of hope to those who need it most
  • Provides the guiding light, energy and knowledge every persons impacted by violence will need on their personal journey towards toiora.

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.

That context of affection, compassion, care, healing, kindness empathy and respect resonated me with me in a kōrero I had recently by one of our Ngai Tahu leaders, Tuari Potiki, in an article ‘fighting the darkness with the light (2019)’.

“I don’t take credit for the change in my life. I’ve been looked after by tūpuna, by a whole lot of other things that we can’t see in this world. But, also, by other people around me.

The war on drugs, and all of that stuff, is often fed by fear. They play to our weakest and most horrible instincts. I think the answer is the opposite. It’s all about aroha, it’s all about love, it’s all about connecting.  Sorry if that sounds “joy to the world, peace on earth,” but I really feel that. You fight the darkness with the light. That’s how I see it.”

I love that – the power of love.  Again returning to the wisdom of Dr King:

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.

Graduation for Diploma and Certificate in Whānau Ora

This week I had the privilege of speaking to the 40 graduates of the Certificate and Diploma in Whānau Ora as they were honoured at the Waiora Trust in Christchurch. Here is a snippet from my keynote address, which speaks to the all-important work carried out by our Whānau Ora network, and the gift these graduates will give us as they turn their newly gained qualifications towards creating better outcomes for whānau.

Ma te kotahitanga e whai kaha ai tātau. In unity, we have strength.

In a highly fractured and polarised environment, division serves no purpose.  Our world needs people who can heal the harm; who can nurture the soul; who can listen to those who want to be heard. We need people with robust skills; flourishing talent and just the right mix of qualifications and life experience to get us through. Those people are you.

There is too much at stake to not step up now

Ma te kotahitanga e whai kaha ai tātau.
In unity, we have strength.

We need to protect life and wellbeing; we need to build natural immunity; we need to nurture resilience.   And we need each other to do that.

We must always challenge ourselves to look for more innovative ways and opportunities to connect and engage whānau in Whānau Ora pathways. To protect our whānau from the harsh realities that life can throw at us – we have to invest in the possibility and hope of champions; survivors for whānau.

Each of us has someone special in our lives. Someone who encourages us to reach higher; to dig deeper; to stretch and grow.  In graduating today, I hope you remember all those who placed their faith in you – who encouraged you to step up; who showed the way.

This is their day. This is your day. This is our day.

Waitaha Kōanga Kai

Last Saturday Te Pā o Rākaihautū hosted a Waitaha Kōanga Kai event at their whenua māra space at Pohoareare. This site is just off Gayhurst Road, not far from the kura. The event was attended by kaimahi and whānau from He Waka Tapu, Cultivate Christchurch and Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, all of whom contributed skills and knowledge to sustain their kaupapa of growing kai. The section has a no-dig approach to planting kai, and has every stage of organic processing – from whānau dropping green waste from their homes, to the natural breakdown of composting, to planting taewa, corn and many more vegetables that are able to gain nutritional value with as little disturbance as possible.

Vaccination Extraordinary Event in Kawatiri

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has been delighted to work with Te Hā o Kawatiri to help with the vaccination effort of Māori in Westport. Recently, 75 whānau presented to the NBS theatre to get their vaccinations. This included 43 first doses (17 of whom were Māori) and 32 second doses (25 of whom were Māori. We were delighted to learn that the West Coast DHB reached a first dose rate of 90 percent this week, thanks to the efforts of clinics like these.

The hangi cooked by the Marsh whānau went done well with kaumātua and hapori. We had kaimahi deliver kai on a plate to kaumātua who were unable to attend. Hapori were able to take kai home.

The flood navigators Karen and Jenny were amazing on the day, helping with stalls, serving kai and cleaning up. They provided tautoko to whānau who were nervous to be vaccinated as well. Navigator Tinana Bianca and COVID kaimahi Doris made up the goodie bags, kai preparation.

These two wāhine are true assets to the organisation, they were so passionate and committed to the campaign and this helped with making our day amazing. Sally helped with manning the prize giving stand with Sammy, and Te Hā o Kawatiri board members Karena, Mikaere and Maraea opened our event and provided guidance and tikanga for us all. Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine attended to wish us well, as did Buller District Council CEO Sharon Mason. Finally, thanks to the West Coast District Health Board nurses who were amazingly loving and considerate to our hapori.

New Zealander of the Year Awards

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu celebrates local talent announced this week as semi-finalists in these awards. We are delighted to congratulate some of amazing individuals across Te Waipounamu.

New Zealander of the Year semi-finalist: Tā Tipene O’Regan

A public figure for most of his life, Tā Tipene  has walked many paths. A major negotiator in Ngāi Tahu’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi Settlement, a public speaker, thinker and academic, Tā Tipene has brought his knowledge and energy to the social and political fabric of Aotearoa New Zealand. The former university lecturer chaired and developed the Ngāi Tahu Archive Advisory Committee, which has led to a partnership with Archives New Zealand, and the rehousing of the Ngāi Tahu Archive collection at the brand new, state-of-the-art facility at Wigram in 2021.

Now in his 80s, Tā Tipene continues to think about the future for his people. In 2021 he worked alongside Minister Megan Woods to ensure the Tīwai Point aluminium smelter closure will be managed to create the best outcomes for the region and has been instrumental in driving hui to explore opportunities for new, green hydrogen industries in the area. Tā Tipene’s work has naturally strengthened Ngāi Tahu’s ownership of its past, while helping to build a future-focused, intergenerational iwi.

Young New Zealander of the Year semi-finalist: Josiah Tualamali’i

Josiah Tualamali’i is a young mental health activator and leader, who works incredibly hard and speaks up to ensure Pacific perspectives and needs are met. In 2018 Josiah was the youth voice on the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. He is a young man with a great future ahead of him.

New Zealand Innovator of the Year semi-finalist: Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown is a communications specialist, who alongside husband Matt Brown, runs She Is Not Your Rehab, the social movement promoting violence-free communities and changing men’s lives.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is proud to invest in the company that Sarah has established with her sister Ngaroma, appropriately called Sister Sister. Sister Sister Limited is a digital strategy and communications agency founded in 2020 with the vision to “work creatively, facilitate and magnify conversations that build connection.” Sister Sister specialises in strategic digital campaigns for the non-profit and small business sector.

For some whānau the digital world is a new and unfamiliar realm which has become essential for the sustainability of new businesses. In collaboration with Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu funding, Sister Sister aims to educate and support eight Wave 14 initiatives with online social marketing.

New Zealand Environmental Hero of the Year semi-finalist: Bronwyn Hayward (MNZM)

University of Canterbury lecturer Professor Bronwyn Hayward is an esteemed academic, whose work on climate change, sustainability and youth politics has had global influence. She was a lead author on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) Special Report on 1.5C and is a member of the IPCC’s core writing team. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is thrilled to work with Bronwyn as part of our Kōanga Kai initiative, focusing on understanding more about attitudes to food and kai sovereignty.

Pouārahi, Helen Leahy with Kathy Campbell (Kāi Tahu; Waihao)

Mokopuna Ora

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has great pride in the work of nine whānau entities across Te Waipounamu who are championing Mokopuna Ora. Those entities are:

  • Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora; Dunedin
  • Aroha Ki Te Tamariki Trust; Dunedin
  • Arowhenua Whānau Services; Temuka
  • Awarua Whānau Services; Bluff
  • Kaikaiāwaro Charitable Trust, Te Hora Pa, Canvastown
  • Nōku Te Ao Charitable Trust, Christchurch
  • WestREAP, Hokitika
  • Te Korowai Manaakitanga Trust, Motueka
  • Maata Waka ki Te Tauihu Trust, Blenheim.

While many of the challenges experienced by the Mokopuna Ora entities have been a result of COVID-19, many also shared barriers and learning opportunities outside of a lockdown context. Challenges for entities this year have included:

  • The inability to meet with whānau kanohi ki te kanohi
  • The rising suicide rates for tāne Māori
  • Whānau unable to access support from Government organisations
  • The cold weather, and increased illness
  • Many single parents without transport struggled to access food and essential items during restricted lockdowns

These challenges highlight the added stresses of lockdown for whānau as well as the restrictions imposed on the entities when trying to respond. Into this context, the work of our Mokopuna Connectors are simply stunning.

This week I want to celebrate a recent graduate with a Diploma in Whānau Ora, and long-time Mokopuna Ora kaimahi Kathy Campbell (Kāi Tahu; Waihao). In her recent report to us Kathy shared some of the key highlights of her work at Arowhenua Whānau Services:

  • Two new pēpi and one due next month
  • Another three Oranga Tamariki case closures
  • Two young māmā have achieved drivers licences and another two are enrolled
  • A young māmā with a reputation for non-engagement who has attended several appointments with external agencies
  • Two probable new enrolments to come in
  • One young whānau get back together after doing a whole lot of work on themselves and meeting all goals set by themselves and external agencies.