After attending last week’s He Waka Eke Noa hui, I have been thinking about the ecosystem of advocacy and research, and how crucial it is that we each play our part in creating better outcomes for whānau. We were all inspired by the kōrero from Professor Graham Smith – his deep understanding of te ao Māori and his ability to articulate the uniquely Māori ways of addressing problems that face us. He is one of many rangatira who have been leading the way for Whānau Ora and everything it encompasses: better outcomes for Māori across the board, in education, health, the justice system, family violence. Without their message of hope, many of us would not be able to find the pathway forward.
Not all of us can hold these positions of inspiration and motivation at this level, but we all have a part to play. I think of our wonderful kaumātua who for generations have inspired and supported our whānau, hapū, iwi and the wider hapori with their tireless and unwavering belief in, and commitment to, whānau and the incredible mātauranga and experience that they share so willingly with us all.
When I consider our Whānau Ora network, I think of our amazing partners and Whānau Ora Navigators across Te Waipounamu who have also been working amid our hapori for many years. Their dedication, passion for whānau and knowledge is unmatched. Being on the ground and supporting whānau in real time means that they have invaluable experience working with communities and an incredible understanding of the needs they are trying to address – and the best tools to achieve that.
On another level altogether, we need the academics and researchers who crunch the numbers and come up with data that tells us exactly what our whānau are facing. Without data, we can sometimes struggle to advocate on their behalf in seeking the support and funding we need to address the problem.
Here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, we are dedicated to playing our part in this system. As well as directing funding out into our communities where it is most needed, we can also provide a buffer for the entities we support. Funding comes with rigorous reporting requirements and we can help smaller entities navigate this space to meet those requirements. We can also provide data to all entities, which can be used to support their kaupapa as they continue to grow and seek funding elsewhere. Digital stories are another valuable source of information that can be used by whānau to share their journey.
Overall, the past week has been a reminder of what a privilege it is to be working in the Whānau Ora space, and to play a part in mobilising a movement that has been one key to whānau success since 2015.