"A thousand moments I had just taken for granted, mostly because I assumed there would be a thousand more" - Morgan Matson.

This week our hearts have broken for the loss of four young men on the brink of their adult lives, suddenly taken from us through a tragic accident.

Konnor Steele, 16, Indaka Rouse, 16, Kyah Kennedy, 16, all from Bluff; and Omaruhuatau “Maru” Tawhai, 17, from Invercargill, died when the ute they were in collided with a truck on April 22.

The communities across Awarua and Murihiku are close-knit; inseparable in times of tragedy, linked in arms through whakapapa, through friendship, through sport. For them, these losses are up front and personal. It is a grief as deep as any ocean, sweeping over them in waves which ebb and flow. All they can do is to learn to swim through the storm, remembering, reflecting, grieving. The reality is, they will mourn forever. They will learn to live with it – eventually to heal and to rebuild. But they will never be the same.

And nor would they want to be. Because now they carry their boys with them always, wherever they go. They will remember their sons in the quietest of times; they will miss their cousin at 21sts, at weddings, at celebrations. They will cry for their mokopuna, wishing his life had been spared; saying aloud, “I wish it was me.”

For all these whānau, our love is with you now and always. We hope, in time, you can laugh at the crazy things they did; mention their name without your heart missing a beat. We hope you can tell their stories; remember with love, the thousands of moments that will be forever cherished as the time you had with your special boys.

Ngaro noa koe e nga tama, i ngā marae nei. Ko te aroha rā e nga taonga, e pēhi kino ihonei. Haere rā, haere rā…

Tipu Ora at Waiora Trust

This week the  Tipu Ora team were in town, based at Waiora Trust, and supporting a cross-section of amazing Whānau Ora ambassadors on the Certificate and Diploma Programme. I am a Guest Lecturer for Tipu Ora and am always fortified by my time with the students who fill my heart with hope. Pictured below is the Halbert-Pere whānau, who all participated in the programme – mother Tralena with daughter Jordy and son Xade. It was fabulous to see such commitment to whānau transformation. The other photo is of the Diploma class. The focus this week for the course participants was PATH planning, whānau diversity, the whakapapa of Whānau Ora, the future of Whānau Ora. There are tauira on the programme who have come on to learn more about themselves, there are others who see it as a powerful tool for healing and transformation.  For some it is a qualification for their mahi; for others it is a qualification for a betterlife. For me it is always uplifting to see the energy, the momentum and thel eadership that is blossomingacross Te Waipounamu in taking Whānau Ora across their lives.

Tihei Taiohi

Today 30 tamariki and rangatahi gathered at Kaiteretere alongside their whānau for Tihei Taiohi. This event was all about health, as well as providing young people with an opportunity to connect to te ao Māori and build a more holistic view of the issues that might be affecting them. The wānanga was a collaboration between Hawaiki Kura, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Te Piki Oranga and Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Trust.

Significantly, the event was delivered by teenage sisters Te Ao Mārama Nepia and Māreikura Nepia, with support from their father Kiley. It is fantastic to see Hawaiiki Kura continue to walk the talk in developing programmes that meet the specific needs of their audience.

“Our wānanga are all about reconnecting our rangatahi to te ao Māori and promoting holistic wellbeing,” says Te Ao Mārama Nepia, 17. “We’re all about reminding our rangatahi that they are a seed born of greatness.”

A Boy Called Piano

Over the past two years Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has been proud to support the creation of A Boy Called Piano – the story of Fa’amoana John Luafutu. This is the first feature length documentary film made by Pacific theatre company The Conch, and tells the remarkable story of Fa’amoana’s time as a state ward in the 1960s, and the intergenerational impacts of these experiences. It was developed in collaboration with the Luafutu aiga, and was directed by Nina Nawalowalo, produced by Katherine Wyeth, with Executive Producer Tom McCrory and starring Fa’amoana himself, his son Matthias and grandson Tāne, alongside Aaron McGregor and TupeLualua, with a stunning score by Mark Vanilau.

The film blends dramatised sequences and powerful interviews with beautiful aerial and underwater photography, translating Nina’s celebrated visual storytelling to the screen for the first time. We were delighted to learn that it has won Best Feature Documentary in the Spring edition of the prestigious Montreal Independent Film Festival. Congratulations to The Conch for this incredible result – we can’t wait to see the full film on Māori Television next year, and in the meantime you can check out some interviews with the cast and crew below.

Kata Mclean-Nutira (Kaikōkiri Hauora)

Website updates

This week we had Ariki Creative and NAIA in the whare, as part of a project to upgrade the staff profiles on our website. Our kaimahi play such an important role in supporting our whānau and communities, and we want our website to celebrate this, and to help whānau visiting the page learn a little bit about the people they are working with. We asked each kaimahi to bring in some props that represent who they are, and we are using the results to create short videos to accompany their profiles. Check out this one, and keep an eye on our page to see the final result.

Te Whānau O Hokonui Marae Incorporated

Te Whānau O Hokonui Marae came together to create awhi pea Pīkau (APPi). These te ao Māori based resources have been designed to help tamariki deal with anxiety and stress during these difficult times. Wānanga, including whakapapa and whakawhanaungatanga, have been held, to collaboratively come up with the APPi (bear) design and contents.

Kaumātua have been passing on their knowledge, including mātauranga raranga and tikanga. This truly intergenerational initiative has seen 99 whānau members from 36 whānau take part to develop and test the taonga. Three teti pea, multiple pōhatu, and a feathered kākahu have all been created. A pīkau is in the process of being created and a pukapuka isbeing collaboratively designed with input from tamariki.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, previously planned wānanga morphed into smaller wānanga, outdoor hui, and kōhanga specific Appi testing. The entity had numerous whānau isolating and distributed the COVID-19 rauemi (masks, shields, tissues, etc.) widely amongst their whānau.

Responses from 33 whānau show that 82% strongly agree that the resource they are creating will help their tamariki. Whānau excitement was high as a result of the kaupapa, and one hundred percent of those involved say the yhave made a meaningful contribution to the wānanga. One hundred percent agree that taking part has strengthened their connection to te ao Māori, and whānau comments show the whakawhanaungatanga has been deeply appreciated. Kaumātua have loved being advisors and being a part of the kaupapa alongside mokopuna, enjoying a nice healthy picnic.

Shoutout to the Whānau Ora team at Te Tai o Marokura!

How amazing was it to see all the photos coming through from Kaikōura this week as the Healthy Day at the Pā rolled out on a beautiful fresh autumn dawn.

Fighting this virus, building our strength and sustenance, is a massive challenge for us all as we continue to live with the impact of COVID in our lives.  I am so heartened by the creativity and the imagination of everyone stretched out acrossthe motu who is dedicated to doing whatever it takes, to keep us all well. Ka mau te wehi.

Birthday blessings

And what better way to end this week than celebrating two of our team – both connected in the Telehealth space – Dr Sam Selwyn and Pisivalu Pou-Tulisi – as they cut their birthday cakes in unison.

We have a commitment – and a contract – to focus on the digital empowerment of whānau through Telehealth. Good progress has been made in this kaupapa despite the ongoing Omicron impacts. The Telehealth kaupapa is designed to uplift levels of whānau connectivity and therefore adequate access to the range of services now available on a digital platform. The online resource availability and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SPARK being signed were both key steps forward.

A particular highlight is that all Tū Pono Connectors; Wave entities and Kōanga Kai champions have stepped up to the opportunity to become Telehealth Connectors this quarter, which increased their ability to connect with whānau through access to the Telehealth booking system. For our own workspace, the digitalisation and training of kaimahi across different teams on SharePoint list enabled us to efficiently coordinate and report the data across the other teams during the application process. Leveraging the usage of Microsoft Teams to integrate, collaborate and embrace different applications (PowerBi, PowerApps, and SharePoint pages) on the workspace to share content across the kaimahi enabled real-time communications on the quarterly reporting.