Over the past four years of my time at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, I have been blessed to work alongside an amazing and passionate team of kaimahi. Since stepping into the role of Pouārahi in August, I have had the privilege of leading them and witnessing their unflagging commitment to the aspirations of Whānau Ora. I have been proud to see their passion, talent and expertise and I take seriously my responsibility to ensure that they each have the opportunity to build on their existing skills and take on new challenges.

Succession planning is something that gets talked about frequently, but even with the best intentions it can be difficult to follow through. Developing a new generation of leaders takes time and patience, and when our schedules are full it can be easy to put it on the back burner and promise to pick it up another day. Recently, I’ve resolved not to do that and to make sure that succession planning remains at the forefront of our priorities here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

Over the past few weeks, it has been a real joy to see some of our kaimahi building their confidence and adding to their existing skills and knowledge. By attending events like the Connections 2022 Conference hosted by Sport New Zealand, or Te Korimako Legal Education Wānanga, our younger kaimahi are able to shadow members of our senior leadership team – and eventually, they’ll be able to step into these spaces with renewed confidence and continue to represent Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

By making the time to walk alongside these kaimahi while they grow, we are investing in the future – both theirs, and the future of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.

Te Korimako Legal Training Wānanga

Last week, several of our kaimahi were privileged to attend Te Korimako Legal Education wānanga at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua. This was an opportunity to learn, listen and kōrero about the best ways to support whānau navigating Oranga Tamariki and the Family Court. Our team was fortunate to attend this wānanga with over 60 organisations from across Aotearoa, as well as a First Nations roopu from Canada, who all shared a common goal of advocating for whānau and ensuring whānau were well supported by their lawyers and communities within the justice system. The facilitators of the wananga are a group of Māori lawyers and judges shared with over 200 attendees the rights of whānau and community/iwi support workers within the courtroom, the entitlements many whānau are missing out on, and supplied resources to ensure everyone walking alongside whānau were informed and equipped with legal tools and knowledge. There was also extensive kōrero about Family Group Conferences (FGC), Whānau Hui, Rangatahi Courts, Police Safety Orders, and other critical points within the justice system where whānau are often misinformed and unaware of their rights. Mokopuna Ora Connectors, Tū Pono Connectors, and several Whānau Ora Navigators were in attendance, as well as many other Te Waipounamu partners.

Te Toka Tū o Waitaha Māori Rugby League

Since its inception in 2016, the Pacific Rugby League Series has gained momentum, establishing itself as the biggest platform to bring Pasifika whānau together and this year, Te Toka Tū o Waitaha re-established a Māori presence within the tournament.

Te Toka Club President, Shane Tamatea (Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Mahāki, Ngāti Kahungunu), says Māori teams have been absent from the tournament for several years and it was with that in mind, that he and Ricky Manihera and a group of committed enthusiasts, established Te Toka Tū o Waitaha earlier this year.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for those who reside in the Waitaha rohe and who have a passion for rugby league to come together as Māori o ngā maata waka. It’s also a chance for team members to learn about their culture and we’ve been amazed by the response,” he says. Interest in the new team was sudden and overwhelming.

“In short order we first had enough people for three or four teams. We thought, “let’s chuck it on Facebook and see if there are more players inerested, one thing led to another and now we have 16 teams ranging from Under 5 years to Senior Men. The high level of interest took us by surprise. Everyone wanted to jump on the kaupapa. There was obviously a hunger among parents to have their tamariki and rangatahi learn about their culture, and promoting te reo Māori me ōna tikanga through wānanga, waiata and haka sits at the heart of our club’s aims.”

Now, with over 250 players, coaches and support staff, Te Toka Tū o Waitaha are primed and ready for their first season on the competitive field and thanks to huge support from Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Te Toka Tū o Waitaha have been able to provide the stylish new uniforms for all players and coaches feed all the tamariki, make fees affordable, utilise wānanga space and hire a haka tutor.

Te Toka Tū o Waitaha were fortunate enough to be able to enter 16 teams into the tournament and although culture was the the winner at the end of the day, they were lucky enough to take away a few tohu including Under 6 overall team, haka of the tournament, coach of the tournament and the premier mens took out the grand final in a nail bitting finale against the Tongan Warriors.

“We wanted to give our players a sense of belonging. We wanted them to feel the mana of putting on our jersey and knowing that we’re all in this together,” says Shane.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu are proud of the way Te Toka Tū o Waitaha were able to unite whānau together in such a short amount of time and we look forward to seeing them grow and flourish in the future.

Wave 16 in Murihiku

Recently our Pou Ahurei – Commissioning Manager Huata Arahanga had the privilege of visiting a number of the Wave 16 initiatives in Murihiku, who are just completing the first quarter of their 12-month funding window. Huata returned to Ōtautahi describing a trip filled with highlights, and grateful for the opportunity to spend precious time with whānau who are living out their own Whānau Ora dreams.

In Invercargill, Huata caught up with many entities including Gina Malcolm and her whānau, who applied for Wave funding to fulfil their dream of offering mirimiri, romiromi and hauora/rongoā services for their community. His visit to Mark Hutana was well-timed – Mark’s aspiration was to open a slow-cooked rib shack and Huata said it would have been wrong not to sample the product. He also made a quick trip over to Rakiura to catch up with Pippa Hakopa and the whānau from Te Kai a te Rangatira who are making some amazing progress with their kaupapa of revitalising te reo and tikanga Māori on the motu.

For his next stop, Huata met up with Vanessa Whangapirita and together they had the honour of representing Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu at the official launch of the new waka hourua, Ururaki at Lake Manapōuri. Ururaki is the realisation of the vision held by husband-and-wife, Rua and Claire Paul, and was built by Rua himself, the possessor of amazing mātauranga handed down over generations relating to the traditional practices of carving and sailing such waka. Huata and Vanessa were able to immerse in the mauri and the wairua of the occasion, joining Rua and others out on the glass-smooth lake. The silence was deafening and the immensity of the moment was something that cannot be described. Rua has dreamed of completing this kaupapa for a long time, and Ururaki will be the vessel for him to share his mātauranga as well as providing a tourism opportunity in this area.

Huata and Vanessa also had the privilege of meeting Hori Parata, a well-known tohunga recognised for his expertise in whale recovery. He has been involved in this mahi for decades and is a leader in developing whale recovery protocols. Matua Hori was on hand to offer karakia for the launch of Ururaki and to support the kaupapa.

Tohu Awards 2022

I was recently privileged to attend the Tohu Awards, which are an official acknowledgement of excellent service and ongoing commitment from organisations in the community and members of the Defence Reserve Force, Cadet Force Officers and Limited Service Volunteer graduates.

The Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) course is a free six week residential course for rangatahi where they can take part in a range of activities to help them to move to jobs, training or study and get the skills to find a job, feel proud of what they can do and get a fresh start in life. The course is operated by the New Zealand Defence Force and began in 1993 with courses run several times a year all over New Zealand. Hundreds of young people have joined LSV and built the confidence and skills to get work-ready and sometimes make a fresh start in life.

The Minister of Defence, Hon Peeni Henare, recognised a number of part-time New Zealand Defence Force personnel and the organisations who support them at the annual Tohu Awards – run by the Defence Employer Support Council (DESC). These Awards have previously been included in the Minister of Defence Awards for Excellence.

Employers of our Reserve Force, and Cadet Force officers are vital to its effectiveness. With the support of independent organisations, part-time personnel can attend training and deployment opportunities and supplement Regular Force personnel. In return, employers’ benefit in employing and supporting members of the Reserve and Cadet Force Officers, as well as our Limited Service Volunteer graduates, receive training through the Defence Force, which helps develop and sharpen skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, discipline, planning, management, and much more.

The Reservist of the year was Lance Corporal Jason Hart, an outstanding performer within the NZDF Reserve Force who was recognised by his Unit, 2/4 Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

Lance Corporal Hart demonstrated a high level of commitment to his Reserve Force duties through his frequent attendance at Unit parades and activities, in spite of his busy schedule as a 3rd-year medical student.

Congratulations to all award winners and those who nominated organisations that show their support for the people and the Defence Force’s purpose.

Kōrero and Kai

This week we held the third and last Kōrero and Kai Event in collaboration with Sister Sister, a communications agency founded by sisters Sarah Brown and Ngaroma Crown. The events have shared kōrero from a series of wāhine Māori entrepreneurs that can teach new and aspiring business owners about kickstarting, developing confidence to achieve dreams and building a business with ethics.

Our final speakers were Maurz Taane, founder of HAPA, a local store that showcases more than 200 designers and artists, including a range of exclusive HAPA designs. They offer a wide range of gifts, jewellery, artwork, craft and homewares, curated for local customers. From Tāmaki Makaurau we had Ashley Allen, founder of Ashley Allen Beauty. Ashley Allen Beauty exists to unite women of all ages, backgrounds and experiences to redefine their own definition of what makes them feel beautiful. Those who were fortunate to attend were left with a lot more than business advice, including a deeper understanding of the incredible journey both of these wāhine have overcome to be in a position where they are now able to uplift and inspire others.

Spark visit Kawatiri

A contingent of Te Pūtahitanga staff (Riki Paea, Martin Conway and Gina-lee Duncan) introduced Riki Hollings and Kororia Tirikatene from the  Maori Leadership team at Spark into the community of Westport last week.

When speaking of his visit, Riki referred to a quote from Rereata Makiha: “There are over 200 hundred different types of rain in te ao Māori, you can’t learn that from inside, you have to step outside to be amongst it to understand it and know it.” This outlines the importance and significance of sitting with whānau, and of giving them the safety and security to share their aspirations and stories.

Our thanks to Te Hā o Kawatiri who facilitated this hui, and to the whānau who attended. We all then went out into the community and met with Skye Neighbours who opened her relaxing welcoming environment, her own business of E&G Hair design. Skye spoke about her passion for enhancing te reo Māori and how her journey has influenced her mum and sister (another Wave recipient via Tamāhine Boutique) into learning more about their whakapapa.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu investments in the Kawatiri region are supporting increased self-determination for whānau Māori, with their māra kai, Whānau Ora Navigation, Tū Pono, Te Hā o Kawatiri and Wave entities. The pride built within whānau has a huge social effect that was very evident. Of course, it’s also a beautiful place to see the sunset, and to be gifted whitebait, and above all a very welcoming place to increase kōrero, to dream, and to action.