Over the past two weeks, Matariki has been inspiring us to reflect on our collective past, and the journey of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu over the past eight years. This week, we are looking ahead to a new future.

Today marks the first day of July, and also the first day of a new era in healthcare. It seems like just yesterday that the health reforms were first announced, and we are delighted that from today, Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority will formally begin functioning as the core health services for Aotearoa.

This change does not interrupt the provision of care to our whānau, who should still continue to seek support from the same services as usual. However, in the longer term we are excited to see the new system focus on creating better outcomes for all whānau, with a focus on equity, accessibility and cohesion. Above all, we are hoping to see the strengths-based, people-led philosophy of Whānau Ora embedded at all levels of the new system, particularly within the Māori Health Authority.

The health reform was created to address many of the same problems that Whānau Ora has been chipping away at for the past eleven years. For too long, mainstream health services have not provided adequate care to vulnerable communities like Māori, Pasifika and tangata whaikaha. The establishment of Whānau Ora provided an opportunity to address this, but we have always been constrained by the limitations of a health system that is not fit for purpose and continues to perpetuate the same prejudices and inequities.

While the Whānau Ora Review of 2018 recognised the inherent success of our approach, it also acknowledged that a cross-government approach was needed to truly harness its lifechanging potential. Our hope is that this new model for health services will allow Whānau Ora to play a greater role in affecting change for whānau Māori.

We are committed to working closely with the newly established Iwi Māori Partnership boards as well as directly with the Māori Health Authority to ensure that our whānau and communities are engaged with and provided for in all decision making.


Rangatahi from Kaiawa Touch, one of our Tama Ora kaupapa.

He Oranga Poutama

This week we were delighted to further our partnership with Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa, with Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson’s announcement of additional funding for He Oranga Poutama.

He Oranga Poutama is a workstream within Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa that seeks to support Māori wellbeing through play, active recreation and sport. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is the He Oranga Poutama provider for the South Island.

Our partnership with Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa began exactly one year ago today on 1 July 2021, and it is wonderful to see their continued commitment to improved outcomes for Māori. Thanks to their support, we have been able to address a gap identified across the motu in terms of engaging our tamariki and rangatahi Māori in physical activity. We decided to use the funding to create a programme that would remove barriers to participation, and so Tama Ora was born. Tama Ora supports programmes, kaupapa and events that encourage tamariki and rangatahi Māori to participate in physical activity.

This week’s announcement affirmed the commitment of Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa and will allow us to continue delivering Tama Ora until at least 2024.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu board hui

On Monday and Tuesday this week we gathered together at Te Whenua Taurikura for a series of wānanga focused on strengthening our relationships and, mapping out the next 10 years of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. In attendance were the representatives of Te Taumata, our iwi governance board, members of GPL, our operational board, and our senior leadership team.

Many of our board hui have been conducted via Zoom over the past two years, and it was wonderful to be together kanohi ki te kanohi. Technology has played an important role in keeping us connected, and will continue to be a useful tool to allow us to meet from afar without the inconvenience and expense of travel. However, we all agreed that it’s just as important to make sure to maintain some opportunities for in-person whakawhanaungatanga.

As we reflected on our journey so far and planned our next steps, it was heartening to see alignment in our values and aspirations. In particular, to have reinforced the message that Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is committed to breaking down barriers for whānau, to finding new and innovative ways to harness the inherent strengths and potential of whānau Māori and together create a better future.