Kia reka te waiata e waiatatia ana e koe, anohe mīere e whakawai ana i te tītapu. Let the song you sing be as sweet as the honey dew that entices the bellbird.

This week I had a breakthrough moment.

It was the magic combination of one of our beautiful kuia, a luxurious purple mink blanket and me. I sunk into the warmth of the blanket, snuggled up to one of the favourite nannies, and cried. Howled, spluttered, sobbed and gasped for air. He tangi hotuhotu. As I cried, the rain poured down in concert, and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

Is there anything more soothing than a pat on the back and the gentle chide saying, ‘there, there, don’t make yourself upset’?  The comfort and the compassion, the love and the laughter, was wrapped around me so tight that I never wanted it to stop.

This week I’ve had occasion to look again at Te Aorerekura – the national strategy which sets out a strengths-based vision for eliminating family violence and sexual violence. There is a stronger focus on primary prevention, healing, and the critical role of tangata whenua and community leadership for achieving intergenerational change.

In the strategy it reminds us that there are solutions within the promotion and strengthening of Whānau Ora that require a focus on healing, restoration, redress and a return to a state of noa.

It made me think about our kuia and the purple mink.

We want to work with our Tū Pono Connectors to identify spaces and supports that enable healing, recovery and restoration for whānau and communities and ways of working based on an understanding of violence and trauma.

For some those spaces might be through the process of Pure, to go to the water and be cleansed. For others it might be through karakia; through retreat; through wānanga. This weekend, for example, in Kaikoura there is the Mauri Wāhine, Mauri Tāne wānanga – click here to learn more.

Kia reka te waiata e waiatatia ana e koe, anohe mīere e whakawai ana i te tītapu.”

Let the song you sing be as sweet as the honey dew that entices the bellbird.

One of our recent investments has been to support the publication of Te Waioratanga Ōtautahi 2021,  a directory of local Māori who serve and promote Māori healing and wellbeing. It is not an exclusive list; it is just a beginning. The purpose is to promote local, traditional and contemporary ways to wellbeing.

As part of our commitment to this work we have funded the creation of Te Wai-ora-tanga. The word waiora is often interpreted as the ‘waters of life’ or ‘life-giving waters’. The directory explains the word, waiora, as giving expression to the concept of sunlight; the healing rays of the sun; a secondary meaning is well-being’ or ‘prosperity’.

If you would like a copy of Te Waioratanga Ōtautahi 2021 email

I am willing to change

Keeping our spirits lifted can be particularly difficult at this time of rising numbers of Omicron cases being presented throughout our community. The Mental Health Foundation has information about how to get through COVID-19. It includes wellbeing tips, helpful resources, and self-help tools and apps – click here to access these. You can also click here to find a list of tools and information on the Ministry of Health website.

I’ve found one of the greatest sources of wellbeing through times of tension has been to just have regular time working out, particularly with people I feel really comfortable with. Here’s some of my gym buddies from HCC showing just how muscly we are. Of course when you’re standing next to the phenomenal Manu Hale with bulging biceps that show how beautifully toned she is, you really don’t want to even try!

Presentation to Select Committee

This week our team presented to two select committees at Parliament: one about the Oranga Tamariki amendment bill (vis-a-vis subsequent children) and the other the education and workforce Committee focused on the Accident Compensation (Maternal Birth Injury and other matters) Amendment Bill. It is really encouraging to know that there are changes proposed for the assessment and allocation of support for birth-related injuries. It seems absurd however, that the injuries related to baby during the birthing process are not considered in the same legislation that responds to the situation around injuries during the birthing process for adult women.

We are mindful that:

  • Māori/Pasifika/Asian wāhine are seven times more likely to suffer from perinatal distress
  • 50% of women who suffer with anxiety or depression in pregnancy will develop perinatal depression
  • 12% percentage of pregnant women have severe anxiety or depression

We recommended that the cover be extended to include psychological injury relating to childbirth.  We are concerned that the bill does not include psychological trauma or injury. We know that support services for this injury related to birth are severely lacking and challenging to access.

We also recommended that any injury to the birthing person and their baby sustained during birth be covered by legislation. To convey the impact of injury upon whānau life, Sachiko Shimamoto shared her powerful story: the story of a mother who has been fighting the bureaucracy to accept that the delay in delivery caused injury to her daughter for the last sixteen years.

There is no question that there was not medical error in the circumstances around the birthing process. It is also clear that there was a substandard quality of care for both mother and daughter. No one person has been found culpable; but this whānau are definitely victims of a system of care which has been found to be substandard. Over the last sixteen years Sachi has been fighting with all she has, to take this issue through countless investigations and inquiry. In the meantime, a young woman waits.

It was one of the most powerful kōrero I have ever heard. It made me think about how many other parents share similar stories – stories of frustration and anger at a system which appears not to care. Parents who have walked the journey of constant challenge alongside of their children; waiting for justice to be done. I am so grateful and humbled at the courage Sachiko showed in being prepared to stand before a screen of parliamentarians, and let her truth be known.

Wellbeing kits for whānau

One of the ways in which we have seen Whānau Ora entities reach out to support whānau during this time, is in the construction of kits to support whānau. This week Deb Fraser-Komene, Kaitiaki|Director for Whakaata Tohu Tohu/Mirror Services in Dunedin shared with us the progress in putting together kete for their families.

Over the last couple of weeks we have signed off agreements impacting on 117 Whānau Ora Navigators; 22 Navigator tinana; 10 te reo Matatini me Pangarau; 10 Mokopuna Ora; 24 Koānga Kai and 7 Tu Pono connectors to support them to support whānau. Our intention was to reach far and wide to ensure whānau across Te Waipounamu, no matter their circumstances, would be able to feel supported.

We have also been putting wellbeing kits together here in our office – check out the video below to see this process in action!

St Patrick's Day

Finally, as our team meets more often virtually than it does in a physical sense, we always find ways to keep the momentum. This week, with the occasion of St Patrick’s Day, we turned out in our finest Emerald wear.   So with the kiss of the Blarney Stone to motivate us, we leave you this week with this beautiful Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

The rain fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.