People ask me about my fascination with Christmas trees. What do they mean to you? Where do you get the inspiration when you decorate them?

Christmas trees remind me of home. Every year my brother would cut a tree (or branch) and we would decorate it as a whānau often with decorations we made at school that year or ones which Mum kept from the years before. As we got older and the sparkly trees took over, the feeling that comes from decorating a tree was never lost on me.

A tree represents time together, speaks of customs built over time, the gathering of whānau around a table enjoying kai, lots of laughter, and love. Gathering around a table continues today and now that I am a Nan, the joy of Christmas comes in being with our mokopuna, watching their faces light up and basically giving them anything they want simply because it is Christmas.

Our mokopuna are our everything.

At Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu we recognise this through Mokopuna Ora, one of our cornerstone kaupapa.

Whānau-led and whānau-centred, Mokopuna Ora supports parents with tamariki under the age of 5, recognising that these years are crucial to helping our pēpi reach their full potential.

Mokopuna Ora is a vocation, and we are lucky to have 13 incredible Mokopuna Ora Connectors in Te Waipounamu. These people are the epitome of manaaki and aroha, and together they form a korowai of support across the motu, wrapping around whānau and supporting them to raise happy, healthy and connected tamariki. Mokopuna Ora Connectors work with whānau to provide tailored support that meets their specific needs – everything from māmā and pēpi groups and early childhood education, to maternal mental health support and counselling.

Our Mokopuna Ora contracts advisor Tania Batley is passionate about her role. “Being a parent is the most important job you can do,” she says, “and that deserves to be supported and respected. When we are connected, through whānau, extended whānau and community, we flourish. That’s what Mokopuna Ora is.”

Over winter, it was a privilege to host the Mokopuna Ora connectors here at Te Whenua Taurikura for their annual wānanga – an important opportunity to share kōrero and ensure the korowai remains tightly woven. Have a look at the video below to meet some of our connectors and hear more about the Mokopuna Ora kaupapa.

Mauri ora


Some of the Gifting Trees set up by kaimahi and their tamariki at Te Whenua Taurikura. We ask staff to bring in gifts for tamariki and pēpi and these are then donated to whānau.

Te Haerenga ki a Motupōhue me Rakiura

Tell people you are going to Bluff, they often ask where is that? Quite different to if you say Tāhuna/Queenstown! However, our experience found a different understanding around whenua, being the recipients of manaaki, whanaungatanga, kotahitanga, waiata, kōrero, kōrero, kōrero and delicious kai.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu had the pleasure of staying at Te Rau Aroha Marae, resting under the glow of stunning Cliff Whiting whakairo, kōwhaiwhai, tukutuku and ngā tai mīharo; hosted by Corey Bragg and the beautiful whānau who keep the home fires burning at the marae. Corey introduced us to the pūrākau of the wharenui and despite being humble about his journey with the hītori of the place, we loved it.

There was quite a bit of passion around the digital project that the marae is pursuing so as not to lose the depth of understanding that came from the late Bubba Thompson, a kaumātua of the marae who passed earlier this year.

Corey spoke to the wonderful kaumātua that Bubba was and the huge influence he had in their community. The haerenga was an opportunity for kaimahi to come together to realign, renew, refresh and strengthen relationships with ourselves, partners and engage with initiatives we have supported.

We were fortunate to cross Te Ara a Kiwa on a very calm day to visit Rakiura with its special micro-climate that is just another incredible world in the deep south. Hosted on Rakiura by Pip Hakopa and her whānau from Pā Tours, a whānau kaupapa that tells the stories of Rakiura from their perspective. After welcoming us to Rakiura, Pip shared with us their journey and had time to give us a  quick guided tour of the island. We even made it to the Bragg homestead where Corey was able to share more stories with us. Rakiura is so beautiful. If you ever get to the island, visit Pip and everyone at Pā Tours and hear the stories of Rakiura.

Hoe ki rite!

This week our kaimahi had the privilege of being hosted by one of our Tama Ora entities, Te Waka Pounamu Outrigger Canoe Club. Te Waka Pounamu embody the outcomes and values of Tama Ora, helping rangatahi to build healthy habits, work as a team and flourish and grow as Māori within the kaupapa of waka ama. For our team this was an awesome opportunity to connect to our taiao, our external whānau and of course connect amongst ourselves through waka at Whakaraupo. Ka tika me mihi atu ki te hapū o Ngāti Wheke e rere ana ngā tai o mihi ki a koutou. Ki ngā kaihautu o Te Waka Pounamu tēna koutou mō tō manaaki, mō tō āwhina mai i a mātou ki te ako waka ama ki Whakaraupo moana.

Growing connections at Omaka Marae

The māra kai at Omaka Marae in Wairau is overflowing. Pumpkins, kumara and fish bins full of Māori potato. The māra, which is supported through Kōanga Kai, is a place to connect, share kai, get stuck in for the wider community and give back. Adding to the bounty are a new flock of hei hei, which are not only useful for their eggs but to dig around and eat the weeds after harvesting.

Holiday spirit

To inject a bit of seasonal cheer, our teams at Te Whenua Taurikura had a ‘Best Desk’ competition on Friday. Which is your pick?


Hope your week has been great. Kia pai tō wā whakatā.