Tangata ako ana i te kāenga, te tūranga ki te marae, tau ana A person nurtured in the community contributes strongly to society

On Monday this week, the kaimahi and directors of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu came together with friends and family of the Whānau Ora network to formally welcome our new Pouārahi, Ivy Harper. Ivy has been a key member of our Senior Leadership Team for the past four and a half years, and has been sharing the role of interim Pouārahi since May. We are so pleased to officially welcome her to the new role and to share her first blog as Pouārahi.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has grown exponentially since it was established in 2014, with a little over two million dollars in funding, and one funder. Today, we have a much larger budget to invest in whānau aspirations, spanning 16 different funders. We have funded over 850 initiatives in the past seven years, and have valued partnerships with 56 Whānau Ora partners, 10 Mokopuna Ora entities, 26 Kōanga Kai providers, and many others across our extensive network of RUIA, Tai Neke, Tai Ora, Uruora, Aroā, Tama Ora, Tū Pono Te Mana Kaha o te Whānau, Te Reo Matatini me te Pāngarau, and of course our fabulous NavNation of 122.5 Whānau Ora Navigators.

Into this landscape of vast opportunity, I am humbled to take up the enormous privilege of the role of Pouārahi. I am forever grateful for the strength of the structure and design of our commissioning model – as first given expression through the vision of people like Sacha McMeeking, Cazna Luke, Dottie Morrison, Diane Turner and the late Sandra Cook.

That such a model has withstood the test of constant pressure is a huge tribute to the insight, inspiration and investment of the nine iwi that determined to take a stand for the collective good of all whānau living in Te Waipounamu. I acknowledge the leadership of Ngāti Koata, Ngāi Tahu; Ngāti Kuia; Ngāti Toa Rangatira; Ngāti Rarua; Te Atiawa ki te Waipounamu; Ngāti Tama; Rangitane ki Wairau and Ngāti Apa ki te Ra Tō to encourage us all to place our faith in whānau.

So much of the success and stability of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has been shaped by brave leadership; unstinting service and bold principles. In this I am forever appreciative to have worked alongside my predecessor, Helen Leahy; and the brilliant team of talented, tenacious wāhine and tāne she attracted to our workforce, many of whom are still with us today. I continue to be amazed at the quality and commitment of my colleagues, who every day are compelled to do their best to serve the whānau of Te Waipounamu. I promise to do my very best by you; to lead with love; with vigour and with integrity. I will work closely with our leadership team to keep the highest standards of excellence and more importantly I vow to be the strongest advocate for whānau that I can possibly be.

My solemn commitment is to ensure that every whānau knows that they matter; every whānau feels the love that is uniquely theirs.   Life is so precious.  Let our whānau know we love them every day.

I feel blessed to be able to take up the mantle of leadership for the transformational intent that is Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu. I am honoured to be able to reflect the trust placed in us by eight iwi and to always uphold whānau at the centre. I hope that you will all join me in the journey ahead.

Whero Services MENgineering Programme

Last weekend Whero Services held a wānanga at Rehua Marae in Ōtautahi, as part of their MENgineering programme. The programme began with the support of Wave funding through Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, and we are proud to see that it has since grown into a sustainable kaupapa with support from New Zealand Police and the Department of Corrections.

As part of the MENgineering programme, the team deliver pūrākau, a wānanga aimed to help young Māori dads communicate better with their tamariki, develop literacy skills, build confidence and  build pride in their identity and culture. All participants receive coaching that helps them reflect on their own lives, select stories and create a bespoke pukapuka to gift to their tamariki. It is awesome to see our Wave entities building upon their success and creating opportunities for whānau to thrive.

UC Research Project into Kōanga Kai

This week our Whānau Ora Champion, Gina-Lee Duncan welcomed Professor Diane Mollenkopf to Te Whenua Taurikura. Diane is a lecturer at the University of Canterbury (UC) Business School, with a focus on supply chain management, and came to thank Gina-Lee for a presentation she gave last month on the Kōanga Kai kaupapa. The presentation was delivered to a group of Community and Urban Resilience educators (CURe) at the university, and focused on the learnings from Kōanga Kai: when food is more than food.

It was therefore fitting for Gina-Lee and Diane to sit down this week in our wharekai, beneath the kupu adorning our walls: Whaia te ara poutama – pursue the pathway of education and betterment. These words are there to inspire our kaimahi to reflect on our purpose and they also provided the perfect backdrop for a hui about the living examples of Whānau Ora.

Several UC researchers are currently undertaking a research project for the Ministry of Health, exploring how to increase whānau access to healthy and nutritional kai in light of the challenges and ongoing impacts created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a project celebrating all whānau participating in Kōanga Kai, who have built resilience fostered through growing kai and all that it entails. Yes, fresh and healthy kai is the outcome, but whānau are expressing that the whole journey is becoming a pathway to wellbeing in more ways than they ever expected. Gina-Lee says that this kaupapa is really a holistic approach to wellbeing, and a project that involves the entire whānau.

A Boy Called Piano

Over the past few months, we have been eagerly anticipating the release of A Boy Called Piano, a documentary sharing the heart-breaking story of Fa’amoana John Luafutu and his experience as a ward of the state. Created by theatre company The Conch, this is an extremely important film and an opportunity to shed light on the realities of state care for many tamariki, past and present. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is proud to have supported this beautiful work, and this week our Pouārahi Ivy Harper travelled to Auckland for the premiere screening. A Boy Called Piano will be touring the country as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival, and we encourage anyone who is interested to make the time to see this incredible documentary – and Ivy recommends making sure you take your tissues. Tickets to screenings in Ōtautahi and Ōtepoti can be booked here and here.

Kiwi Kai – Premier Winner at Māori Women’s Development Awards

We are so delighted to celebrate with Reni Wereta-Gargiulo of Kiwi Kai, who was announced as the Premier Winner at the Māori Women’s Development awards on Friday night last week. Kiwi Kai is a fabulous business based in Nelson that celebrates traditional Māori kai and promotes a healthy, nourishing diet for overall wellbeing. Their simple goal is to fill your puku with goodness and they have earned a reputation for their delicious kai. Read more about the award here.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is proud to have supported Kiwi Kai to develop a range of drinks, Atutahi, that celebrate New Zealand ingredients with flavours like kawakawa, lemon and lime, and horopito, blackcurrant and boysenberry. We are over the moon to see Reni recognised for her passion and entrepreneurial flair with this well-deserved award. We also congratulate Cazna Luke of Mokowhiti who was a finalist in the regional awards for Te Waipounamu.

Twin Harmony – Local Impact Award Winners

On Saturday night, 16-year-old twins Tanemahuta and Teakaraupo Pakeha-Heke  received the Local Impact Award at the Festival for the Future 2022 in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. This award celebrates remarkable young New Zealanders making a difference for our future, and Tanemahuta and Aka were recognised for their commitment to ending family violence through their work with Tū Pono Mana Tangata in Ōtautahi.

We could not  be prouder of these two young men, who have turned their experience of family violence into an opportunity to create real change. They have been part of our Tū Pono movement from the outset, travelling throughout Te Waipounamu to share their story and encourage change. They also wrote the beautiful waiata (below) acknowledging the personal impact violence has had in their lives with the tragic loss of their mother.

With the support of their grandmother Piwi Beard, Tanemahuta and Aka are making a difference for whānau, offering support, inspiration and hope to those trying to make a change in their lives. We are so privileged to have seen their growth over the past few years and to see their strength and commitment acknowledged with this award.

Te Mātātahi – Rangatahi Scholarships

Earlier this week, Māori business network Whāriki launched a new kaupapa alongside Meta. Te Mātātahi is a pilot programme providing fully-funded scholarships for 30 rangatahi Māori (aged 18-25) to embark on their journey as digital marketers and storytellers of āpōpō.

This course will give them the foundational skills to kickstart a career in the digital marketing space, as well as giving them a Meta certification: Meta 100:101 Digital Marketing Associate.

Applications are open now until August 12, and anyone who is interested can jump into an information session about the kaupapa on August 11 at 6pm.