Since Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu was first established eight years ago, the Whānau Ora network has steadily grown, and we are now proud to be part of a strong and vibrant community that stretches across Te Waipounamu, Rakiura and Wharekauri/Rēkohu. With all of the amazing things happening throughout the motu, it seems to us that Whānau Ora surely must be a household name by now.

However, in the course of their daily mahi our kaimahi often find themselves attending hui and being asked to explain the Whānau Ora approach to people who have never heard of it. The good news is that everyone is always impressed and excited to hear about this approach that is giving whānau the power to be the creators of their own success. The not-so-good news is that there are still many government departments and organisations out there that are yet to understand the potential of Whānau Ora and create opportunities for partnership.

This prompts us to think about how we can do a better job of getting the Whānau Ora story out there – to celebrate our successes and demonstrate what is possible when we harness the potential of our network.

Part of that includes making it clear what partnership means: it’s about meeting us halfway, recognising what we do well and working with us instead of trying to duplicate our services elsewhere.

The reach and effectiveness of our NavNation, the network of 124 Whānau Ora Navigators, comes from the fact that they are situated in the heart of our hapori, plugged into the Whānau Ora network and directly connected to the communities they serve. Other agencies simply cannot replicate their success by creating new roles and labelling them “navigators”.

As Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu continues to grow, and the Whānau Ora network strengthens its role across the motu, we will continue to welcome partnerships with any organisation who recognises the power of the Whānau Ora approach and is truly committed to working with us to create better outcomes for whānau.

Kōanga Kai – wānanga with Pounamu Skelton

On Tuesday this week, we were delighted to facilitate an online wānanga for our Kōanga Kai entities throughout the motu. This session was hosted by the incredible Pounamu Skelton, a māra kai expert who is dedicated to sharing her knowledge with whānau and contributing to increased kai sovereignty in Aotearoa. She shared with us her story of growing up eating kai that her parents and grandparents had grown, thinking that was normal practice for all whānau. It was not until she was much older that she learned that many whānau have become disconnected from the kai production practices of our tūpuna, and so began her mahi to restore that mātauranga and connection.

Pounamu spent a lot of time talking to us about Hineahuone, the earth-formed wahine and the atua of the soil in which our kai grows. She spoke about the mauri that Hineahuone can impart, and the important role she plays. Hineahuone is the foundation of all life – sow, grow and fill your wellbeing.

It was awesome for our Kōanga Kai entities to connect and learn from the wisdom of Pounamu, and to now be able to go out and share that knowledge with our hapori across Te Waipounamu. We also recorded the session and will be preparing it into a resource for our website, so that everyone can access it.

This week we farewelled one of our Contract Advisors Nathan Tau, who is moving into an exciting new role with Emerge Aotearoa. Many of you will have met Nathan, especially the 99 whānau entities that he has supported throughout his time with Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. These whānau have shared the joy of their strong relationship with Nathan, and the information and support he has given them over the years, and we join with them in acknowledging his commitment and dedication.

Nathan also played a core role in the distribution of 20,000 hygiene packs during the first lockdown, and was also on the front line shopping and distributing kai to the many whānau who reached out to us for assistance.

Here at Te Whenua Taurikura, Nathan has always shown his passion for te reo Māori and has encouraged us all to use the language i a rā, i a rā, and led our daily karakia with enthusiasm. I am sure you will all join me in wishing Nathan the best as he begins his new journey.