There have been many observations of Te Rā o Waitangi shared in the media this week. Some have applauded the lack of protest and fiery debate at Waitangi, others have said that was precisely what was missing. Many opinion makers and politicians have used the day to call for greater focus on what binds us together, rather than what keeps us apart.

At Ōtākou Marae, this was what stood out to me – the binding of people.

Ever the beautiful hosts, Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou provided many of us who wanted to attend a place to come together to respect the day, learn, and share in their generosity.

There were so many people, stalls  and happy faces and, as Harley, our Pou Whakatere ‑ Relationship and Engagement Manager, would agree, so much good kai.

The number of whānau, Māori and non-Māori, at each Waitangi celebration grows by the year, which signals great hope for the future.

I hope you were able to acknowledge Waitangi Day in your own way.

Back in Ōtautahi ...

Continuing the theme of coming together, on Tuesday, about 20 kaimahi from Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu had a special opportunity to mark Waitangi Day at Te Pā o Rākaihautū, a participant in our Kōanga Kai Initiative.

Even though many of you may know I have a soft spot for anything Kōanga Kai, I think it is fair to say that all of us left feeling a lot lighter than when we arrived, our bodies as well as our souls well nourished.

We were welcomed on with a mihi whakatau and spoilt with delicious kai from their māra before Kōanga Kai initiative kaimahi Keith Murphy, and brothers Oliver and Bailey Peryman, showed us around the amazing māra there. After that, it was time to do some work, harvesting kai and planting hua whenua.

It is an impressive māra, which has been able to provide kai to a large number of whānau. In my kōrero as I thanked our hosts, I noted that we could watch a digital story or read a report or we can get out in the community and see, hear and do first-hand what our whānau are involved in.  We are so grateful for the depth of manaakitanga shown to us and the beautiful opportunity to connect beyond the office walls.

Te Waka Taiohi o Tahu

The stories on the ground, the faces of the people, speak of the success of our whānau-led, approach to social investment. In Ōtautahi, it has been a privilege to support Te Waka Taiohi o Tahu, the long-standing rangatahi arm of Te Waka Pounamu Outrigger Canoe Club. Established in 2001, Te Waka Pounamu is the only waka ama club in Ōtautahi with a dedicated space for rangatahi and Te Waka Taiohi o Tahu has been growing steadily for the past 10 years. The club has enabled whānau, rangatahi and the wider hapori to enjoy the benefits of waka ama in Te Waipounamu and is inspiring tamariki to set themselves some big goals. Have a look at this video to hear from some of those involved with the club, including one very proud “waka Dad”. You can also read more here.

Kei puta te Wairau!

The sun was shining bright on Wednesday for the induction of our Wairau- and Waikawa-based Whānau Ora Navigators. Ably led by Pouwhirinaki ki Waitaha Carlos Thompson and Pouwhirinaki ki Te Tauihu Deedee Bancroft it was a valuable day getting to know one another in the beautiful surrounds of Omaka Marae, in Blenheim. The rōpū also had a visit from Joe Asiata at Census NZ who talked about the importance of whānau completing their March 7 Census Day forms.

After the hui at Omaka Marae, the rōpū set off for Rārangi beach for a poroporoaki and whakawātea. To cleanse, release and learn to take time out is an important aspect of the Whānau Ora navigator roles and a reminder to us all – to support others we must also take care of ourselves.

Wave 17 and Tai Neke Tai Ora deadline approaching

Applications for Wave 17 and Tai Neke Tai Ora funds close on Friday, February 24, 2023. Have you got your application in yet? The paperwork can feel a bit heavy, but please do not let that put you off. Our team is here to help, get in touch early so you have a better chance of getting a complete application in on time. Email or call 0800 187 689.