Remembering all the correct lyrics is not one of my superpowers. I’m good with choruses and songs where key refrains are repeated. But generally the finer details escape me. But there is one song I know all the words to. It has a verse that takes me back to many great parties where we would sing in raucous harmony: 

I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe

As any credible fans of Whitney Houston would know, that refrain accompanies the message that this week, as a nation, we should all have been singing from the top of our lungs: 

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

The scenes coming out of Wellington this week – juxtaposed against horrific scenes of war crime committed in the midst of Ukraine – were not scenes any of us would ever wish upon our children.

To see the police being assaulted with rocks, cones, poles, debris; people crying and distraught, yelling abuse; tents burning; big wafts of smoke enveloping the air; to hear the wail of car sirens screaming in the chaos; the presence of authority advancing in thick lines of an armed force, adorned with batons, helmets, shields and visors – all of it was horrific and unravelling in front of our eyes in every living room across the nation. 

For me there was one particular image that was sadder than all the others – the desecration of the children’s playground on the forecourt of Parliament.  

Whitney Houston’s song reminds us, “no matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity”.

In the eye of the storm, dignity was restored through the combined efforts of iwi leadership working with manawhenua to establish peace through the laying of Te Kahu o Te Raukura. Taranaki whānui chair, Kara Puketapu-Dentice, explained it as such: 

“Te Kahu o te Raukura can almost be akin to a rāhui – a form of cultural protection over our whenua that says this area here – we set expectations around behaviour in this place but we have seen the disregard and the takahi of the mana of the whenua, this is a form of cultural protection affirming our mana and our rangatiratanga and our practice in our ways on our whenua.

This is an opportunity to whakaea tērā wairua – so that we can make a stand and make our position incredibly clear of what we expect going forward. There is going to have to be a lot of healing for our whānau across the motu around this whole issue, but our expectation is that that healing will not happen on the grounds of Parliament, that healing will happen when they go home, back to their communities, alongside their people – that is where the healing will happen.”

We must not forget to teach our children well, remembering they are indeed our future.

The healing can not begin soon enough. 

This Sunday, 6 March, is te rā o ngā tamariki, a national day to honour and celebrate our children. 

It is preceded by an international event on Friday 4 March – World Day of Prayer. Observed on the first Friday in March each year, this is a worldwide movement of informed prayer involving people of many denominations and languages in more than 170 countries. Each year the service is written by women in a different country who share the hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, opportunities and needs, of their country. 

My hope today, on this World Day of Prayer, is that we truly start to act in ways that remind us – as a nation – of the healing power of children’s laughter. That we remember little eyes are watching, alert ears are picking up on our anger, our grief, our anxieties and our words. They take in our silent tears. They act out scenes broadcast on television screens in front of them. We must not forget to teach our children well, remembering they are indeed our future. 

Active cases by DHB and ethnicity

Profile of Omicron amongst whānau Māori in Te Waipounamu


The profile of Māori cases by age and gender makes for stark reading. A massive 77 percent of active cases of Omicron in Te Waipounamu this week are in Māori under the age of 30 years (1223 cases out of 1590).   

Māori cases by age and gender

As a consequence of this demographic over-representation amongst younger Māori, a key focus in our Omicron response has been in supporting the ten kura and the ten Mokopuna Ora entities to be able to support the whānau around them.


We have spent time this week negotiating to ensure kura get quick access to rapid antigen tests; we have been doing our best to distribute wellbeing kits or the resources for whānau to create their own; we have been bringing our entities together to try to figure a way forward. 

Te Pūtea Whakatere

To support whānau during this time, we have opened a new fund that will empower whānau across the South Island to design their own solutions to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. Applications for Te Pūtea Whakatere target the Māori response to Omicron.  

Te Pūtea Whakatere will give whānau the opportunity to create initiatives and resources that will address their specific needs.  

Particular emphasis in this fund is towards supporting mokopuna, tamariki and rangatahi to navigate this time. Another priority is tangata whaikaha (disabled peoples) and whānau living in rural communities.  Mental health is also a specific focus of the fund. 

Applications will close on 15 March 2022. Get in quick! 

A similar opportunity is established for Whānau Ora Navigation Partners. The Innovation and Improvement fund is targeted towards supporting initiatives that Whānau Ora partners consider will make the greatest difference in our communities to wrap support around our most vulnerable.  

Good as Gold – Koha Kai

How proud were we all to see Seven Sharp revisit Whānau Ora partner and champion, Koha Kai and their hardworking CEO Janice Lee, in a wonderful story that featured in prime viewing hours on Wednesday night.  The story promoted the mission of Koha Kai to uplift people with disabilities through employment, as well as expanding their food donations to include the elderly and community groups. Have a look. 

Supporting each other to support each other

Over the past week, our team have been hustling to respond to the new funding received by Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu to support the Omicron response. It’s of the utmost importance that this funding reaches the communities that need it as quickly as possible, and we’ve been working hard to make this happen. We wanted to ensure all of our Whānau Ora Partners had the resource to get to whānau where and when they need it most. This has included processing variations to contracts to allocate more pūtea to our Partners to support whānau in the kura, in sports and recreation, whānau known by our Whānau Ora Navigators; whānau working in areas such as family violence.   

We have distributed masks, rapid antigen tests, colouring books, tote bags, pencils, posters and other resources across Te Waipounamu.

Our Kai Hub has been mobilised and is delivering kai across Waitaha, and we have been able to support Whānau Ora entities respond to the surging Omicron cases, particularly at the University of Otago, University of Canterbury and kura across Waitaha.   

All of this is made possible not just by the desperately needed funding announced last week, but by the incredible motivation of our kaimahi here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the passion and commitment of our Whānau Ora partners, and the tireless efforts of our Whānau Ora Navigators, Navigator Tinana, Kōanga Kai entities, Tū Pono connectors, Mokopuna Ora, and every single entity and individual that make up the Whānau Ora network across Te Waipounamu, Rakiura and Wharekauri/Rēkohu. The Whānau Ora ecosystem rocks. 

Mahi Tahi Agreement with Spark NZ

This week Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu signed a Mahi Tahi Agreement (Memorandum of Understanding/MOU) with Spark NZ, a huge milestone that will support Uruora, a Telehealth initiative that we are currently developing. COVID-19 highlighted how fundamental digital inclusion is for New Zealand’s wellbeing, and how significant the real-world impacts are for those who are excluded, particularly Māori. As the internet became a vital tool during the lockdown to provide support to people who needed it, build community, and share information and updates from officials and elected representatives, many Māori missed out.  Research such as Motu’s Digital Inclusion and Wellbeing in New Zealand also shows digital exclusion is worse for Māori when compared with the wider population. 

We saw this digital exclusion first hand through our Manaaki20 and Puna funds, as whānau turned to us for support to stay connected. Following this we successfully bid for leadership in the area of Telehealth, and we are now investigation the value that key stakeholders such as Spark NZ can bring to our work with whānau. This Mahi Tahi Agreement is particularly meaningful, as it will allow us to address the digital divide for whānau, and to make progress towards digital connection, health, and Telehealth wellbeing goals.  

Sharing the love

To respond to suffering by reaching out is the ultimate expression of tikanga aroha. 

He aroha whakatō, he aroha puta mai – If kindness is sown, then kindness you shall receive.

We want to acknowledge so many supporters and champions who are volunteering time and goods to support whānau in need. Shout out this week to Reni Gargiulo, and Kiwi Kai from Whakatū, for the beautiful spirit of generosity demonstrated in the kawakawa drinks that were sent down for us to get to whānau.  

Their thoughtful gesture in sending a pallet of 80 boxes of 15 drinks has meant that each kai pack since December has had two bottles in each bag. 600 kai packs from the Kai Hub – Pokapū Kai –have had their amazing healing drinks to sample. The special rongoa of kawakawa is blended with a light syrup to create this wonderful Kawakawa lemon and lime drink. 

Atutahi Kawakawa & Kumarahou Drinks NZ 

Wave Applications

Wave 16 closed on Monday, and after six weeks, 14 kanohi ki te kanohi workshops and eight online sessions we are absolutely over the moon to receive a huge total of 245 applications! This number represents a huge range of creative ideas for initiatives that will support whānau and communities to thrive, confirming what we already know – that whānau are ready to step up to the challenges of the pandemic and determine their own future. We were particularly glad to see more applications than usual coming in from Te Tai Poutini and Murihiku! Our team is working hard to process these applications, making sure we have received all the information we need before passing them onto our independent panel to review. We look forward to sharing the stories of our successful Wave 16 entities in the coming months!  

Whānau Ora Navigator vacancy – Te Āwhina Marae

Our whānau at Te Āwhina Marae in Motueka are seeking a Whānau Ora Navigator to join their team, working alongside kaimahi from the marae and Te Piki Oranga. If you are a confident and capable communicator who has a passion for whānau and Whānau Ora, this is the perfect opportunity for you. Applications are closing on Monday, so get your CV sorted over the weekend and apply! For confidential enquiries, please contact Sacha MacDonald 027 386 9288 or Chan Collin 027 540 1027. Otherwise click here to view the full advert.  

Whiro – new beginnings

This week marked Whiro, a new moon, and our Whānau Ora Champion Gina-Lee inspired us all when she shared her thoughts about using the new moon to set new intentions, flipping the script and seeking ways to move into a place of satisfaction rather than fighting.  

Moving on from ‘fighting’
Fighting a virus
Fighting a war
Fighting to be heard
Fighting for freedom
All these frustrations and fears 

Acknowledged and flipped.

Moving into ‘satisfaction’
Satisfaction with knowing we are prepared for a virus
Satisfaction with knowing we are safe in our homes
Satisfaction to turn into ourselves with love conversations
Satisfaction to have each other
All this daily satisfaction and gratitude. 

The new moon phase intentions.  

Love the ones you’re with.