When Makaira Waugh received Te Pūtahitanga WAVE funding for his new business, Tā te Manawa, it gave him a boost of confidence to continue developing the retreats he has designed to ‘replenish’ and empower Māori, who make a difference in their communities.

“It was an opportunity for me to clarify my thoughts and learn about the practicalities of running a business. Tā te Manawa is not just a business, it is my calling in life. But to make it happen I needed to learn how to manage it successfully” he says.

Makaira (Te Ātiawa) established Tā te Manawa in early 2022 with the aim of creating a space for Māori leaders to come together and be nurtured in mind, body and spirit through connection to the taiao and the taonga within their cultural heritage.

“A lot of our people work hard supporting others; they’re often stretched. This is my way of supporting them.”

While the key focus of the retreats is nurturing participants’ wellbeing through meditation, activities within nature and connecting to the inner child through music, there are also opportunities for people to explore their own leadership potential.

“It’s about connecting to our purpose in life and encouraging people to develop the courage and determination to follow their own path,” Makaira says.

“Sometimes as whānau Māori we carry trauma, and connecting with our inner child is a beautiful way of stepping away from the expectations we place on ourselves as adults, enabling us to enjoy being playful, creative and spontaneous. Our inner child is a very strong connection to our wairua and intuition but to reach this part of ourselves and the taonga it provides, we need to learn to be comfortable with our own vulnerability and feel the truth of our emotions. By having the courage to truly listen to ourselves and act on our intuition, we lead from within. The taonga that we need to make a difference in the world are waiting within us.”

WAVE funding has given Makaira the security he needs to develop further retreats, as he continues to work as an artist, poet and kaiako, teaching at a local kura three days a week. He is also developing his marketing skills and using funding to work with a professional photographer to develop a promotional video.

“Marketing and advertising have been the biggest challenge for me but Te Pūtahitanga mentorship has been amazing, and the new video and website will be exciting marketing tools for Tā te Manawa.”

He says the fundamental kaupapa of Tā te Manawa is grounded in his own knowledge of te ao Māori. He is a fluent te reo speaker and kaiako (he also speaks Spanish and works with indigenous people in México), and teaches and composes waiata, karakia and rap in te reo, and poems in both languages.

He brings that experience to his third Te Waipounamu wānanga at Te Nīkau Retreat in Punakaiki on March 22-23. It’s designed for the staff of Whare Manaaki o Te Tai Poutini, a kaupapa Māori organisation operating out of Māwhera on the West Coast, where Makaira taught Māori language throughout 2022.

“This is an exciting area to be working in. We need to be healing ourselves and utilising the power we have as indigenous people and the profound knowledge our culture holds.”

“For me, Tā te Manawa is a way for me to make my biggest personal contribution to changing the world. It’s not about knowing the answers, it’s about owning the power we all have within us and working together to find solutions.”