Over the past couple of weeks, with the passing of my uncle Bill; our pou kuia Nanny Biddy; Dr Moana Jackson, Tā Wira Gardiner, Dame June Jackson and all of the grief associated with losing people who have made such a profound impact in your life, a Disney character has come to mind.

I have been thinking of Pepa from Encanto. Any time Pepa feels overwhelmed or distressed a storm cloud appears above her head, growing and shrinking in proportion to the intensity of her feelings. As a consequence, Pepa is never really able to unleash her feelings fully without the fear of unpredictable storm clouds erupting above her.

The picture of Pepa could well be me, as I struggle to cope with all the conflicting feelings that are top of mind at this time. Feeling overwhelmed has been a state of mind that has been brewing the closer I come to my leaving date.  As I looked for inspiration, I am comforted by the Patron Saint of Ecology – Saint Francis of Assisi – who said “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

To be honest,  I have been desperately sad that because of the necessary cautionary approach in light of COVID I am reluctant to travel at this time – and yet there are so many makers and shakers, champions and warriors for whānau; that I really wanted to just spend time with – to thank you for your many sacrifices – to recognise the heroic work undertaken across the motu – and to acknowledge the difference you have made.  These past seven years have been unbelievably motivating as I have really seen the momentum of whānau innovation literally changing lives for the better.

There is going to be a farewell in Ōtautahi on Thursday 5 May – so I am hopeful we might get a chance to be together and share some memories then. Contact Ati.Vili@teputahitanga.org for details.

But until then, I need to focus on doing what’s necessary – and a big part of that will be in trying to prevent the storm clouds above from bursting. I am mindful that the storm will always pass – and nothing I can do can calm those rain clouds, or control the cyclonic winds. All I can do is calm myself. If it is to be, it starts with me. Fine words – now I just have to follow them!

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible." – St Francis of Assisi.

Wellbeing packs hit Waitaha

This week the Waitaha NavNation added another duty to their list of responsibilities: picking up their wellness packs from Pokapū Kai for distribution to the whānau they support.

Over the week 42 Navigators from 25 partners, marae and rūnanga each received 50 wellbeing packs.

We also had Māori TV here to see our response to Omicron for whānau in the community with the mahi with Navigators and Pokapū Kai distributing kai to them.

Kete Whānau-Kete Oranga is the kaupapa run by Te Hui Amorangi o Te Waipounamu Trust Board through the support of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

Whānau wellbeing kits will be created and assembled for the many whānau impacted by Omicron. The kits will see specific already existing resources including the Planning and Preparation for Omicron booklet, which together with other health and hygiene resources and provisions will be the contents of the wellbeing kits. These kits will be distributed amongst the Kāhui Minita – the Ministry teams and their whānau throughout Te Waipounamu.

Te Pae RUIA 2022

E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea. I will never be lost, for I am a seed sown in Rangiātea.

This week our rangatahi panel met to review applications from our recent RUIA funding round. This was our biggest RUIA round to date, with more funding requested than ever before, leaving our panel members with some big decisions to make. The panel met for a two-day wānanga in Ōtautahi, bringing together rangatahi from across Te Waipounamu – from Te Tauihu to Murihiku. We are proud to be able to say that RUIA is for rangatahi Māori, by rangatahi Māori.

Thanks to our panel members pictured L-R: Tonee Kana, Anjelina Nikora-Wilson, Ebony Alleyne, Wairaamia Poipoi Tikao Taratoa-Bannister, Delane Luke.

Tū Anō rangatahi mentoring

The incredible team at Tū Anō sent through a case study as part of their recent quarterly report, highlighting the support they have provided to a particular rangatahi. Tū Anō delivers a series of wānanga that aim to support rangatahi in Ōtautahi using Te Whare Tapa Whā. Their case studied highlighted that this rangatahi came to them because he had been struggling to control his anger and with drug addiction, leading to incidents at home with his whānau. The early sessions helped him to identify numerous ways to calm himself down when feeling angry, and by the midway point of the programme he had successfully changed his pattern of behaviour and was making positive steps towards other goals, including his NCEA results and being selected for senior rugby and basketball teams. At the conclusion of the programme he was confident in his ability to self-manage and proud of the progress he had made so far. With the support of Tū Anō, this rangatahi has turned his life around and gained the skills and awareness needed to stay on the right path.

Te Hā o Kawatiri supporting whānau through Omicron

We received an update this week from the amazing team at Te Hā o Kawatiri, who are supporting whānau on Te Tai Poutini through the Omicron outbreak. They have had to bring in extra kaimahi to keep up with the demand for their services, which has included providing rapid antigen tests (RATs) and hygiene packs for the hapori.

The team has set up a marquee outside the NBS Theatre in Westport, where they are providing these and other resources to whānau.

Rukuwai Collective – wāhine wellness wānanga

This week we caught up with one of our Wave 14 recipients, Isley Tipene of Rukuwai Collective – pictured below with her contract advisor Nathan Tau. She gave us an update on a recent three-day wāhine wellness wānanga. Held in Ngāi Kuia whenua in Pelorus/Te Hoiere Awa on 4-6 March, it was targeted at wāhine who were seeking assistance around healing trauma. Inspired by Isley’s own journey, the wānanga sought to give wāhine new tools, connections and guidance to take home in order to start creating a new journey. It was about releasing hara, and reclaiming their mana.

Several different speakers shared their mātauranga with the rōpū, including Isley as a diving instructor, another wāhine who led some Kundalini Yoga practices, and another who led a session on mau rākau. These and several other workshops had a huge impact on attendees, and overall the wānanga was more successful than Isley had ever imagined. To maintain the momentum, she is in the process of organising the next wānanga which will continue the focus on diving and mau rākau.

Apply now for Tai Neke, Tai Ora

Ka whati te tai, ka pao te tōrea – when the tide recedes, the oystercatcher strikes. We are calling for whānau to think like the tōrea and take up the opportunity to apply for Tai Neke, Tai Ora, to be part of a movement to uplift the hauora of our hapori.

Tai Neke, Tai Ora is a new approach to whānau hauora that builds upon our successful Navigator Tinana programme. It focuses on the four aspects of wellbeing outlined in Te Whare Tapa Whā: taha tinana (physical), taha hinengaro (mental and emotional), taha whānau (social) and taha wairua (spiritual). Tai Neke, Tai Ora is here to support kaupapa that will help whānau understand the importance of nurturing all aspects of their hauora, as well as building a connection to te ao Māori. Applications close on 22 April – visit the Tai Neke, Tai Ora webpage to learn more.

New kaimahi at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Human Resources Advisor Liz Harber and COVID Capability Advisor Martin Conway. Both of our new kaimahi will play a crucial role in the work of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

In particular, we recruited for a dedicated team member to support our response to COVID-19 in recognition of the additional workload and challenges the pandemic has created. Martin (Ngati Te Ata) has a background in gathering, digesting, consolidating and presenting information to support business cases or contingency planning.  In Martin’s application, he said: “I am motivated by a fierce desire to contribute to my community and recognise that Te Putahitanga o te Waipounamu is a waka that amplifies such ambition.” 

We welcome both Liz and Martin and look forward to working with them.