Over the past few days, our Whānau Ora Champion Gina-Lee has been on the road catching up with a number of our Kōanga Kai entities. This is the sort of mahi that always fills our cups – connecting with whānau and being inspired by the Kōanga Kai kaupapa, as rōpū across the motu rebuild their rangatiratanga over their kai and reconnect with Papatūānuku.
On Tuesday Gina-Lee visited Te Aitarakihi, the multicultural centre in Timaru. She had heard from whānau that they had established a māra kai on site with the support of Ministry of Social Development and Lotteries, and although we are not yet connected with this entity they were very welcoming and supportive of our visit. Jansen, their main māra kaimahi, has so much mātauranga around companion planting, maramataka and even creating a scarecrow whānau of taua, pōua, hine and tama that inspired a local school group to add their own – a scarecrow peering over the fence in anticipation of being invited to join the whānau.
The māra is less than a year old, but is already producing kai that is used at the facility, distributed to whānau and dropped at the local community pantry. Jansen’s knowledge of composting and natural green thumb is evident in all the produce harvested so far, as well as that yet to come. They have planted in a progressive manner to ensure a longer yield of kai – it was a real pleasure to visit this rōpū and we look forward to an ongoing relationship.
Gina-Lee’s haerenga south continued with a visit to Whakaruruhau in Ōtepoti, where she visited for Kōanga Kai and came away with so much more! Hinekura Lawson-Candelaria (Nan) runs a whānau-centred kaupapa from Whakaruruhau, supported by her team of Tennille Boyd, Sinea Haskins, Erana Herewini and many more. Their model is driven by te ao Māori and is whānau responsive, evidenced by the comings and goings during a two-hour visit: mokopuna living their best life in water play (highlighted as a science experiment); fry bread offered to accompany numerous cups of tea; terminally ill whānau calling in for updates and to receive rongoā; a rangatahi calling in as he was passing by, just to give awhi as a sign of his respect for this rōpū; aspirations of continuing to support whānau while growing kai. Nan says, “that’s how we do it. Whānau come to our door, and we plan it out to support them. It’s that easy. And we want to continue doing so as we know it works for our people, because they identify what they need.”
The next stop was at Te Whānau o Hokonui in Gore. Gina-Lee’s meeting with the many whānau volunteers connected to this rōpū was a real treat, as she was hosted by a lot of taua complete with homemade baking and pikelets with jam and cream to complement the fresh vegetables grown in their māra kai. There were plenty of mokopuna holding space around the whare and it was obvious that this is a place of comfort and aroha.
The arrival of Kiwi Harvest to drop off food to be packed up and distributed to whānau was well-received, and the shared kōrero about the apparent increase in need. All hands were on deck to pack over 40 boxes of kai – a weekly occurrence. The commitment of Te Whānau o Hokonui to food security and sustainable food gathering is inspiring, making them a worthy investment for our Kōanga Kai kaupapa.
This week Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu supported one of our partners, Awarua Synergy Hauora Homes at tTe Pā Rakiura to deliver Mauri Hiko, a community-level energy education workshop designed to help whānau in need and to lift people out of energy hardship. Mauri Hiko also aims to support whānau in energy hardship to meet the costs of energy equipment and devices. The workshop helps whānau to get a true understanding of why we have cold damp homes, or why electricity costs can run high. Once whānau have a true understanding of the reasons why, the decision to implement change is easier.
Whānau on the island pay higher prices for electricity than mainlanders. The delivery of the Mauri Hiko workshop was timely for whānau as they continue to bear the rising costs of electricity and the uncertainty of future security of Electricity Supply to the island. The kōrero whānau shared at the workshop was rich and insightful, and it demonstrated once again the mana, resilience and resourcefulness of the community collective. We would also like to acknowledge Pip Hakopa for hosting us at Te Pā Rakiura where a kaupapa Māori initiative, Te Kai o Te Rangatira supports Rakiura Māori to reconnect with their identity, culture and language her manaakitanga, mātauranga and mana filled us with aroha, optimism and inspiration. The mahi that Pip is doing to support whānau on Rakiura is inspirational, check out Te Pā Rakiura on Facebook for upcoming wānanga and events.