When the first photos and texts came through from my brother at home in Te Hauke early Monday morning, I knew the signs did not bode well for the rest of Heretaunga. Growing up in Te Hauke, 20 kilometres south of Hastings, between Paki Paki and Waipawa, we were used to Lake Poukawa overflowing and flooding the surrounding whenua in times of high water. As my brother reminded me, we had not seen anything like this since we were at primary school, many years ago now.

As it turned out, this image was just the beginning in a steady flow of unfathomable scenes from the North Island this week.

The devastation and need is on a scale that is unprecedented. Although what we are seeing again is whānau, hapū, iwi, marae, Māori health providers and the wider community standing up quickly to respond to immediate needs in their hapori. We mihi to all who are supporting those who have been displaced and send our deepest aroha to all whānau who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering the devastating impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.

As we know in Ōtautahi, the path to recovery from a large event such as this will be very long, spanning years and decades. Having the support of the nation behind you makes a huge difference. Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori has started compiling a list of fundraisers for hapori Māori affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. If you would like to contribute, details can be found here.

We do not know what Tāwhirimātea has in store for us next, but we can ensure we are prepared. In the short-term, as whānau, we can sit down with our loved ones and make a plan and ensure we have what we need at home.

The scene at home in Te Hauke this week.

Iwi and marae throughout Te Waipounamu will also have well-rehearsed preparedness plans in place. But there is also a need to think and talk about the longer term and the bigger picture of climate change and its impact on us all.

Next month, the Ministry of Business, Innovaton and Employment and the Ministry of Social Development are holding hui in Whakatū (March 20, 3-5pm) and Ōtautahi (March 21, 10am to 12.30pm) to hear from whānau Māori as they shape Aotearoa’s transition to a low-emissions future. If you are interested in this work, you can find out more here. To register for the hui, click here.

This week, members of Te Taumata and the General Partner Limited Board were in the tari for a full day of meetings and presentations, including the Annual General Meeting of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. It was a wonderful occasion to reflect on the year in review and the gains that have been made. Alongside kaimahi, it was a beautiful opportunity to celebrate the birthday of our vivacious Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō representative on Te Taumata, Hinemoa Conner, and find some light among the clouds.

Kanohi ki te kanohi

From Murihiku to Whakatū, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu kaimahi were privileged to spend time connecting kanohi ki te kanohi this week. Just as Whānau Ora Navigators work closely with whānau to understand where they want to go, we must also nourish our incredible network of people who make Whānau Ora possible.

There were three inductions for new Whānau Ora Navigators this week, in Murihiku, Whakatū and Tokomairiro as well as a Mana Tāne wānanga in Rangiora. Gina-Lee, Toihi and Mihi Rose were also in Hokitika to meet with a large number of whānau who were keen to seek support for their Wave 17 applications.

It is always humbling to be welcomed by whānau, hear their stories and see so many people dedicating their time to support whānau to thrive. The magic of seeing whānau creating and walking new paths, and exercising their rangatiratanga, is a beautiful reminder of our why.

Protecting ourselves and our whānau

There is another pānui to share as we continue to focus on keeping ourselves and whānau safe. This week a case of measles was discovered in Aotearoa, the first since 2019. The adult had returned from overseas where they had contracted measles but did not become infectious until after their arrival in Auckland. The confirmed case is now isolating at home and contact tracing is underway. While there is no immediate cause for panic, now is a good time to check that you and your whānau have received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisation.

If you were born before January 1, 1969, when measles was circulating in New Zealand, or if you have had measles before, you are considered immune. If you are unsure if you have had the MMR, see your doctor.

Measles is a serious disease that can be life threatening. It starts around 10 days after you have been exposed and symptoms include fever, a runny nose, cough, sore watery pink eyes, followed by a blotchy rash. Tamariki can be in bed for up to five days and will likely to be too sick to go to school for at least two weeks. I am not going to debate the finer points of whether people should vaccinate or not (it feels like COVID-19 all over again) but make an informed decision for you and your whānau. Just know that the MMR vaccine is free from your doctor or pharmacist.

Te Toka Tū o Waitaha Māori Rugby League

When Shane Tamatea (Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Mahāki, Ngāti Kahungunu) and Ricky Manihera (Ngāi Tahu, Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou) put the call out to whānau in Waitaha early last year to join them in the newly formed Te Toka Tū o Waitaha Māori Rugby League Club, they had hoped to form one team to take part in the Pacific Rugby League Series.  The response was overwhelming. The club now has 250 members and 16 teams ranging from Under 5s to Senior Men. Check out the video or click here to read more about this heart-warming story.

One week to go

Applications for Wave 17 and Tai Neke Tai Ora close at noon on Friday, February 24, 2023. If you need support or have any pātai, please email us at info@teputahitanga.org or call 0800 187 689. We look forward to receiving your applications. Karawhiua!


Photo: Whānau at our Wave workshop last week at Te Whānau a Hokonui Marae in Gore.

Erica Viedma, Founder and Director of Mindfulness in Schools, Ōtautahi.

Feeling the moment

On Tuesday we were joined in the tari by Erica Viedma, Founder and Director of Mindfulness in Schools, Ōtautahi. Erica is a passionate advocate for mindfulness as a tool to support wellbeing.

What is mindfulness? Erica explained that it can mean different things to different people, but summed it up as a natural state that we can access by exploring ways of focusing our attention to find focus, clarity of mind, reduce stress and increase connection to others.

During the session, kaimahi were introduced to a few different ways to practice mindfulness, including breath work, gentle movement (no gym gear needed!) and simple meditations. The session was well received and we hope to welcome Erica back for regular sessions.