It is often a delicate path we walk in trying to safeguard and maintain our traditional customs and mātauranga in a digital world.

The journey is worth it though, and for Ōhinehou-based Whakaraupō Carving Centre, a move to online learning is continuing to bear fruit and holds lessons for us all.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Whakaraupō was unable to fulfil demand for its whakairo toi classes and the need for a digital option soon became clear. With the support of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu Wave funding, their first online whakairo course, Whatu Kura Toi, began to take shape.

Course developer and kura manager, Noah Mackie (Ngāti Kura, Ngāpuhi), says the initial 30-page course was enthusiastically received in 2022 and through the subsequent development process, the next 90-page course is due to begin in June 2023.

The 10-week foundation course incorporates pūrākau, karakia, critical theory and mātauranga. Tauira are connected via online wānanga.

Noah, who is the son of Whakaraupō Kaiwhakairo, Damian Mackie (Ngāti Kura), holds a degree in English Literature and Cultural Anthropology from Massey University and currently works as a writer, educator and researcher in Melbourne. He is keen to promote the idea that education is a lifelong journey and is enthusiastic about the potential of digital learning for all ages.

“The digital space can be isolating for some,” he says, “but its biggest advantage is that it is accessible, affordable and flexible.

“We hold weekly Zoom wānanga so tauira can mihi, build confidence and share ideas, and by the end of those, we see our students are much more relaxed and comfortable. We also have a live stream from the Lyttelton carving centre that our tauira can tune into, to see actual carving happening.”

“Unfortunately, a lot of people are disconnected from their cultural backgrounds and that can be a scary and confronting place to be. I want to be a conduit – I’m passionate about education and being able to connect people with their culture in a way that is enjoyable and fun, is enlightening.”

The journey and kōrero of Whakaraupō serves as inspiration for us all. Have a look at the video below to hear more.

With some of the team from Alexandra's Uruuruwhenua Health.

Partner hui in Te Tai Tonga

We continued our Whānau Ora partner hui series in Te Tai Tonga this week, starting off in Ōtepoti on Tuesday, before meeting with partners in Murihiku and Tāhuna. The warm hospitality made up for the freezing temperatures and, as always, it was interesting to hear about the unique needs and priorities in each community. The cost of living was a recurring theme as was the lack of affordable housing – especially in Queenstown. Another big one that came up was the transport difficulties our rural whānau are facing, where often public transport is non-existent or too expensive. Next week, we are looking forward to meeting with partners in Waitaha to hear about how things are going on the ground for them.

Connections run deep

Last week we had a visit from Blair Skipper, the new kaimahi for Kōanga Kai at Ōmaka Marae in Wairau. Blair and his partner Jackie spent the morning learning about the importance of reporting and the new Mātātupu portal. After lunch we checked in with other maara kai  within Te Pito o Rakaihautu – Rapaki where Jackie connected with her whānau and whenua while Blair also caught up with a Ngāti Kuia whānaunga, Isaac Fahey.

While the intention was to observe and learn, the connection to people and place always creates the essence of any site visit. That is the magic within Whānau Ora and Kōanga Kai – finding connection in all people and places. We always encourage field visits to remember why we do what we do.

Itiiti rearea, teitei kahikatea ka taea – Although the rearea is small it can ascend the lofty heights of the kahikatea tree.

Arowhenua Whānau Days

The winter school holidays are often the toughest when it comes to keeping tamariki and rangatahi entertained, warm, dry and happy! Whānau Ora Navigators at Arowhenua Whānau Services in Temuka are helping do something about that with their school holiday Whānau Days, which are now highly anticipated by whānau that the navigation team support as well as tamariki and rangatahi in the wider community. The recent winter event at the Temuka Alpine Energy Stadium was one of the most popular yet! Every event is different – in summer, the Whānau Day is held at Caroline Bay in Tīmaru, complete with a sausage sizzle. Mokopuna Ora Connectors also join the event along with Iwi Whānau Advisors so it not only brings the community together but it is bringing kaimahi together as well. Ka mutu pea!

KUMA Māori Business Showcase and Awards Gala

Southern Māori entrepreneurial excellence will take centre stage in Tāhuna Queenstown on September 30, 2023, with an inaugural regional cultural showcase taking place alongside the prestigious business awards.

The categories for this year’s event are Te Tohu Rangatira Whakahaere Leadership Award, Te Tohu Pito Mata Emerging Business Leadership Award, Te Tohu Manaakitanga Customer Excellence Award and Te Tohu Whakawhanaungatanga Collaboration Award. There is also a new category, Te Tohu Tangata Tiriti – Te Tiriti Partnership Award, which is open to any organisation that demonstrates a strong commitment to upholding the principles of partnership, co-design, equity, and connectedness with Māori as set out in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Entries for the KUMA Māori Business Awards are open now and close at 5pm on Friday, September 1, 2023. For more information and to enter, see here.