"An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly." – Unknown.

As winter illnesses continue to spread across the country, impacting our whānau and communities, we are reflecting on what we have learned about self-care over the past two and a half years. Although it has become something of a buzzword, it remains a critical tool in ensuring that we all maintain our personal wellbeing and the ability to continue doing our mahi – and it is particularly important for those of us who work in community-facing roles.

Just as flight attendants remind us to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others, it is important that we take steps to look after ourselves and avoid burn out. Here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu we remind ourselves that as a Whānau Ora commissioning agency, it is important that we walk the talk, and invest in the wellbeing of our kaimahi. If we do not protect them, they will be unable to continue doing the incredibly important mahi of protecting our whānau and hapori.

When the work is never ending, it is always tempting to make one more phone call or send one more email – often at the expense of time with our whānau. That is why we are encouraging everyone to practise self-care, and to take steps to protect your wellbeing before winter illnesses and stress get the better of you. It might look different for everyone – whether it is getting outside in the fresh air, cooking a new recipe or booking a spa treatment, find what works for you and make the time for it.

The beauty of the Whānau Ora network is that we are part of a community of passionate, big-hearted people who will step up to support one another in times of need – and if we all look out for ourselves as well as one another, we will all be better off for it.

Manaaki at Omaka Marae

This week the kaimahi at Omaka Marae have been providing manaaki for their hapori to support the many whānau who are being affected by another wave of COVID-19, as well as the flu and winter colds. They made up packs from their pātaka and resources from Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, and distributed them to Te Pā Wānanga whānau, the Whānau Ora network and the extended Omaka Marae whānau. It’s always beautiful to see our whānau looking after one another and giving help to those who need it!

Kōanga Kai at Te Hā o Kawatiri

Over the past few months we have been working on a series of videos that captures the magic of our Kōanga Kai kaupapa. This initiative was created in response to the challenges of the pandemic and our realisation that many whānau are struggling to put kai on the table. Kōanga Kai aims to reconnect whānau with the practices of our tīpuna and encourage them to take charge of their kai production, whether that’s by growing healthy produce at home or becoming part of a community māra.

We support 26 initiatives across the motu to deliver Kōanga Kai to our whānau, and we are excited to start sharing their stories with you. This week we launched the first video, celebrating the incredible whānau of Te Hā o Kawatiri and their māra kai that is building resilience and self-sufficiency for whānau who have been hit hard over the past two years. Watch below and click here to learn more.

Apply now for Te Kīwai!

We are still accepting applications for Te Kīwai, our fund created in partnership with Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa to help cover the costs of keeping tamariki and rangatahi active. If your kids need new uniforms or equipment, or you need to pay their club fees or costs of getting to and from events, apply for Te Kīwai now! Every tamariki/rangatahi is eligible for up to $300 to go towards their chosen activity. Visit the webpage to learn more and apply now.

Celebrations at Te Whenua Taurikura

This week we enjoyed two fabulous celebrations for two of our kaimahi – Terina Harper and a milestone birthday for Sharon Karipa. The amazing kaimahi made the most delicious banoffee and vegan pie to cater to all dietary requirements, and there was cake and flowers to celebrate these two wāhine.

On Tuesday we came together for our weekly shared kai, this week provided by the Mauri Ora and Toi Ora teams. As always it is wonderful to take a moment to share kai together and enjoy one another’s company.