This week I have been thinking about the ripple effects of major events like the pandemic, the flooding in the north, and of course our own experiences here in Ōtautahi during the earthquakes. Like rivers change their course, rather than end abruptly when faced with an obstacle, major events like this do not just end, they trickle down and take new pathways.

This time last year, we were still largely glued to daily COVID-19 numbers, took all the accompanying precautions seriously and, importantly, there was support available for those in isolation. I am happy to have moved on from those days, but the reality is that COVID–19 has not gone away.

Te Whatu Ora reported 3764 cases of COVID-19 nationally last week and 24 deaths associated with the virus, 10 of those were in Te Waipounamu. In other words, it is still having an impact in our communities. Within our network of Whānau Ora Navigators and partners, there are still stories daily of whānau being pushed to the limit, with sick tamariki, annual leave and sick day entitlements long gone and ever-rising bills to pay.

While it may not be a hot topic politically as we head into the election, it is still important to address and have the flexibility to respond to needs on the ground. We are kidding ourselves that it is over and whānau are coping. We will continue to lobby for support in this space and also highlight the continuing challenges for whānau.

The need to be flexible – and plan – was also a theme at Ihi Aotearoa | Sport New Zealand’s Connections 2023 conference held earlier this week.

The opening speaker was Dr Rod Carr, Chair of the Climate Change Commission, who urged the sport and recreation sector to take a more hands-on approach to climate change.

“Outdoor sports events are likely to be more disrupted, more often. You need to accept that and plan for it – rather than hope it won’t happen to your event on the day.”

We also heard from sporting groups caught up in Cyclone Gabrielle and those who banded together to use their community networks to offer support. We heard that the ability to act quickly – and have the resources to be able to do that – is vital in an emergency.

How does Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu and Whānau Ora fit into all of this? I think back to those initial days of lockdown, and the speed at which we were able to renegotiate contracts with our Whānau Ora partners and entities, check-in to see what was needed and deliver support. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu had supplies on a plane to Wharekauri/Rēkohu immediately, there was no waiting around for layers of bureaucracy to say yes to a community they had never met. The Whānau Ora way is naturally nimble because we do not prescribe what whānau need to aspire to or what their needs are; whānau already know that, we just help to facilitate.

Having said that, I want to remain focused on preparing as best we can and look deeper into how we as the commissioning agency can continue to be as responsive as possible, both in normal times and in times of disaster.

As Dr Carr said: “What I know is we will be better off if we get on with this now.”

Kia pai tō wā whakatā.


Myself and Senior Commissioning Advisor Mihi-Rose Tipene at the Sport and Recreation Awards.

Mihi Whakatau for new GPL Directors

Te Taumata, GPL Board members, and kaimahi officially welcomed the new GPL Directors, Dr Lorraine Eade (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Rārua, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Koata, Te Ātiawa, Ngāi Tahu) and Elijah Pue (Te Ātihaunui-ā-Pāpārangi, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), to Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu this week. As I have noted in previous pānui, both Lorraine and Elijah come with deep experience and networks and are held in high regard in their communities. Nau mai, haere mai, kōrua – we are thrilled to have your experience and knowledge to draw from.


How great to see Ki o Rahi ki Waitaha on the stage at the Sport and Recreation Awards in Wellington earlier this week. The awards, run by Sport New Zealand, celebrate individuals and organisations who have made outstanding contributions to sport and recreation. Ki o Rahi ki Waitaha, who we have had the pleasure of supporting in the Tama Ora space, took home the Jim Maniapoto Memorial Taonga, which acknowledges an outstanding individual or organisation that contributes to whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori wellbeing through physical activity. Ki o Rahi ki Waitaha is a collective of passionate individuals and it is so great to see their hard work and passion recognised.

AROĀ screening event

Keep your eyes open for the expression of interest form to go live on our website next week for the upcoming AROĀ cervical screening event, to be held in Ōtautahi on Saturday, September 2. We know that cervical screening makes a lot of us feel anxious and uncomfortable, but it is an important tool in protecting our people from this disease. The cervical screening events are designed to host wāhine and tangata Māori in a welcoming and non-judgemental space to learn more about cervical cancer symptoms, preventative measures, and get a smear – all free of charge. The Expressions of Interest form will be live here from August 1, 2023, and will close on Monday, August 28, 2023. Be in quick as spaces will be limited.

Te Whiri Kaha Māori Clinical Forum

Te Aka Whai Ora is calling for Expressions of Interest for the newly formed Te Whiri Kaha Māori Clinical Forum. This rōpū is aimed at connecting Māori clinicians from across the health system in a facilitated forum to provide thoughtful evidence-based active and informed discussion, to advise Te Aka Whai Ora and Te Whatu Ora on complex challenges in healthcare sector.  Applications are invited across three categories, which you can learn more about here. Those interested in becoming a member of this advisory board, can find the Expression of Interest form here. To apply, or if you have any other pātai, please email

Delicious kai for a great cause

Make it a lunch date? This hāngi fundraiser is coming up in Kawatiri on Saturday, August 19. Pre-orders available.