Mātai ki te rangi tērā ko Puanga, ko te tohu mo te tau hou – as one gazes to the heavens, it is Puanga and the new year.

This week, whānau across the motu are acknowledging the rising of Puanga – the heralding of Matariki and the calling in of the new year. While Matariki is widely thought to signal the beginning of the Māori lunar calendar, many iwi look to Puanga as the clearest star in their night skies. It marks the beginning of a period of reflection and planning – a chance for whānau, hapū and iwi to gather together, honour their maunga, remember loved ones and look forward to new opportunities.

Here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, we celebrate the broad and diverse range of traditions and stories handed down by our tīpuna. This week our team has been reflecting on our journey as an organisation, a timely opportunity following the decision of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to formally exit the iwi partnership that created Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

Like the other eight iwi, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu were essential in the establishment of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

It was a truly momentous decision for the nine iwi of the South Island to come together in 2014, inspired by the passion and potential of Whānau Ora and motivated to create better outcomes for whānau Māori across Te Waipounamu. Over the past eight years, we have seen that potential realised, through the transformative power of whānau aspirations.

We will continue to have strong relationships across the iwi of Ngāi Tahu, including with the 18 papatipu rūnanga and the many Ngāi Tahu entities we work with. Of course, our opportunities and supports are still open to all whānau, including Ngāi Tahu.

As we reflect upon our journey so far, we are reminded that change is inevitable, but the one thing that remains constant is our commitment to Whānau Ora and the realisation of whānau aspirations.

Aroā Cervical Smear Event

On 11 June, Aroā opened the doors to wāhine mā who were due or overdue to receive their regular cervical screening. This was the first of many events that will be offered through the newly revitalised Aroā funding stream.

Our intention was to create a warm and welcoming space for wāhine Māori to ask any questions and receive their smear without the nervousness and uncertainty they might experience at the GP or another clinic.

The day was a huge success, with wāhine warmly welcomed into our space here at Te Whenua Taurikura. They were met by amazing wahine toa Tiria, the Māori nurse who was here to perform the smear tests. We were stoked to see how many wāhine registered for the event and showed up on the day – it is great to see the strong outreach and interest in clinics that provide a safe space for wāhine Māori to seek advice and support. We have received some amazing feedback that we have shared below. A huge mihi to He Waka Tapu, Screen South and the support of #smearyour mea, and of course to the amazing, Nurse Tiria. The next event will be held on 2 July 2022, and are currently taking registrations for the waitlist here.

“It was a much nicer experience than going to the doctors and the goodie bag and kai were so good….exceeded my expectations. Thanks xxx.”

“All the people were so lovely and very welcome, felt way more comfortable having it down there than at the doctors that’s for sure.”

“Thank you for offering this service, providing the space and giving the nudge to take care of ourselves as wāhine.”

“Was absolutely amazing space, made to feel completely at ease and to top it off I even came away with a massive bag of goodies, I get so nervous with this sort of thing!”

“I would like to thank you for organising this event. It was welcoming, warm, easy, caring, informative and amazing. I dread doing this stuff, and your event made it less invasive and didn’t have that cold clinic sterile feel! The importance of caring for our own health is paramount, however, wahine tend to not do this, but your event gave me a sense of empowerment for myself!”

“A very important kaupapa that some of us know is very important but we just keep putting off to another day. The atmosphere created was warm, welcoming, professional, caring, and understanding.”

Morehu took out second in the U102kg Youth category.

Celebrating success at the South Island Weightlifting Championships

Over the past few years we have been proud to support the whānau at Hale Compound Conditioning (HCC), who do an amazing job encouraging whānau Māori to stay active and healthy. Most recently, Hale Compound Conditioning has been part of the  Tama Ora kaupapa, running a weightlifting programme that provides opportunities to rangatahi to get involved with the sport. Rangatahi Tāwera Tū not only provides free training, it also offers a pick up/drop off services to make sure rangatahi can get to the gym, and provides rangatahi with kai before they head home.

Last weekend, the South Island Weightlifting Championships were held at the HCC gym and the rangatahi were able to put their training to the test. At the end of the weekend, the HCC Barbell Club were proud to celebrate youth champion Miriana for her 55kg lift, bronze medallist Ali with a 67kg lift, second place youth Morehu with 102kg and 12 year old Bailee for a second and third place. Coach Manu Hale said: “We earned this…started on a rākau and now we are here. Walk, talk, train and eat like champions.”

COVID-19 Response – Mission (Nearly) Impossible

Our response at Te Pūtahitanga O Te Waipounamu to the COVID-19 pandemic has been multi-dimensional. In this week’s blog we are providing an insight into the logistics of our unprecedented operation to source and then distribute more than 18,000 wellbeing packs to whānau across Te Waipounamu and Wharekauri since April.

Trying to source personal protection equipment (PPE), hygiene products and rapid antigen tests (RATs) at any time over the course of the past couple of years has been challenging for many of us. Trying to source tens of thousands of these items as the country was bouncing between alert levels and traffic lights was almost Mission Impossible. Fortunately for us at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, we had just the person for the challenge and did he deliver. Ati Vili, our Operations Lead and general “can do champion”, worked his magic, securing 200 pallets of products that would eventually make its way into the country, over the Raukawa Moana and through our amazing networks of community entities, partners and navigators, to whānau in need. In the space of just two months, more than 18,000 packs were distributed. Ka rawe, Ati!

In addition, we rushed out more than 150,000 RATs, most reaching whānau before the Omicron wave swept across Te Waipounamu and we are prepared and ready to respond again if or when the ripples of a second Omicron wave appear. If your community requires PPE or RATs, please contact us for ‘rapid’ delivery.

Takitahi Kreations – Investing in whānau moemoeā

Investing in dreams is the core business of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, and Wave 16 saw hundreds of whānau seeking support to realise their moemoeā. Many of these whānau had the seed of an idea when they submitted their applications but were not yet at the stage of forming a legal entity. Since being notified of their success, it has been amazing to see the speed with which these whānau have moved to breathe life into their moemoeā. A number of whānau have established their own entity as a result of Wave 16 funding.

Missy Broughton is one such person. Her dream was to run weekend raranga wānanga, to pass on her mātauranga Māori to interested whānau. To do this, she has established Takitahi Kreations. After her first meeting with Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Missy  set up a registration of interest for her kaupapa, hoping to ascertain the existing whānau levels of knowledge, experience and whānau aspirations. Twenty whānau said they were keen to take part in the monthly wānanga, which will involve getting out in the taiao and learning how to grow and harvest harakeke. The expressions of interest helped Missy realise that whānau are also seeking a place to learn and practise te reo Māori, so her wānanga will incorporate this as well.

Celebrating book launch – Whakaaetanga/Acceptance by Marlene Bennetts MNZM

Last night we were delighted to host an event, celebrating the launch of Whakaaetanga/Acceptance, the autobiography of multi-award winning author Marlene Bennetts MNZM. Marlene’s beautiful pukapuka shares her story of overcoming adversity and disability to pursue her career in writer, with the aim of encouraging others to overcome the challenges in their own lives. With over 50 people in attendance, the launch was a huge success and a testament to the value of Marlene’s story.

We were so proud to support the publication of Whakaaetanga/Acceptance, alongside our friends at Hei Whakapiki Mauri, and to launch this pukapuka on Thursday night at Te Whenua Taurikura. It was a beautiful occasion that truly captured the spirit of aroha and inspiration. To learn more about Marlene’s pukapuka, click here. All of the proceeds of Marlene’s  book will go to supporting disabled Māori through Hei Whakapiki Mauri.

Hopewalk Christchurch 2022

At the end of April, the amazing team behind Hopewalk led yet another successful event, bringing together whānau and community after last year’s event was postponed due to pandemic restrictions. This incredible event aims to bring awareness to suicide and promote prevention, and it is always a beautiful opportunity to connect with others for an extremely important cause.

Whānau showed up early to help the team set up, starting the day on a beautiful note in an intimate setting where everyone felt safe to be vulnerable and transparent. Many tears were shed, hugs were shared and the event was full of laughter and dancing, with most leaving the event feeling energised and hopeful rather than heavy and sad.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu was proud to support this event and to share some of this feedback submitted to the event organisers.

“Attending HopeWalk has been a massive part in our coping with suicide and associated issues… when you attend one of these events, you are loved, supported, understood and encouraged to be vulnerable, simply because, it’s ok to not be ok and ask for help. Hope Walk is exactly that, it’s a ray of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”

“I feel like it is a great way to bring different communities together to share past pain experiences, trials and tribulations, and how each individual used a different method to overcome past trauma and pain in a safe space, in turn allows people to learn, grow and heal in a setting that resonates with my favourite module Te Whare Tapa Whā.”

Te Kīwai is now open

We are delighted to announce that our Te Kīwai fund is now open until 30 June, and we are inviting applications from whānau who would like support covering the costs of participation in physical activity for tamariki and rangatahi. Te Kīwai can support you with up to $300 to help pay for uniforms, equipment, club fees or fuel – visit the webpage to learn more and apply.