As I sat down to write this week’s blog, the date 15 March leapt out at me and I was stunned to realise that it has been five years since the devastating attack on the Muslim community here in Ōtautahi. I think all of us will vividly remember where we were that day when we heard the news, with schools and workplaces across the city going into lockdown as we waited to learn more. In the days and weeks that followed, our communities came together as they never had before, enveloping the affected families in a wave of aroha and manaaki. Five years on, it is just as important as ever that we keep that feeling of kotahitanga alive and do our best to make sure that everyone feels safe and included in our society.

It has been another busy week here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, and when I reflect on the week’s events a single kaupapa comes to mind: housing. Vanessa Hutchins and I travelled to Motueka to attend the blessing of the opening of the papakāinga at Te Āwhina Marae – you can read more about that amazing kaupapa below. The celebration of this milestone aligned nicely with another event from this week – a wānanga with Mana Kāinga, the Māori Housing Leadership programme I have been participating in since September last year.

The aim of the Mana Kāinga kaupapa is to achieve exactly what Te Āwhina Marae has now delivered for 20 of their whānau: access to secure, healthy homes that support the growth of our tamariki, the peace of mind of our pakeke and the health of our kaumātua. In short, homes where our whānau can truly thrive. The Mana Kāinga programme brings together experts to educate participants about the whole spectrum of housing; everything from papakāinga, to council planning and consenting processes, to sustainable building materials.

By participating in the programme, it is our hope that Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu will be able to support with housing solutions for whānau, hapū and iwi across the motu. As always, we are guided by the aspirations of our whānau and for some time we have been hearing that housing is a top priority. Whānau are tired of being subject to the ups and downs of the rental market, and want to be able to get settled in secure, long-term housing where they can plan for their futures, from what schools their tamariki will attend to what work they can take.

As a commissioning agency, we see our role as accessing the resources and expertise needed to realise whānau aspirations. With the support of Mana Kāinga, we want to be able to stand up our very own housing kaupapa. We have not yet secured funding but it is our hope that the relationships and knowledge we’ve gained through Mana Kāinga will get us one step closer.

Elsewhere, we have been preparing for our independent panels to meet and review applications for Wave 18 and Tai Neke, Tai Ora. There are so many fabulous kaupapa that we are looking forward to supporting, and there are also a number of applications with amazing ideas that just need a little bit more work. We will be reaching out to these applicants and offering to help them strengthen their application in time for the next funding round.

Finally, a number of our kaimahi have been struck down with COVID-19 in the past week or two, a reminder that the virus is still circulating in our communities. For some people, it’s no worse than a regular cold but it definitely hits others harder. With winter approaching, we need to remember the basic rules – wash our hands regularly, take extra care around tamariki and kaumātua, and stay home if we feel māuiui!

Have a great week. Mauri ora,


Whānau attending the opening for the Papakāinga at Te Āwhina Marae

Papakāinga at Te Āwhina Marae

This week marked a huge milestone for our whānau at Te Āwhina Marae, for the final blessing of their now completed papakāinga project. It was a joy to be in Motueka to celebrate this game – changing kaupapa, that is providing affordable, fit-for-purpose housing for whānau tenants. The $15 million project is made up of 20 whare as well as a shared community space, and is already making a difference for whānau who moved into the first homes when they were completed last year.

With so many whānau throughout Aotearoa facing housing insecurity or the realities of damp, cold whare, we are absolutely delighted that Te Āwhina Marae has been able to deliver this kaupapa for their people. We also acknowledge Te Puni Kōkiri, Wakatū Incorporation, Whakarewa Trust and Rātā Foundation for supporting the realisation of this long-held dream. Our aspiration is to see papakāinga developments scattered throughout the motu, giving more whānau the safe, healthy homes they deserve.

Kōanga Kai on the road

This week our Kōanga Kai lead, Gina-Lee Duncan was also in Te Tau Ihu, visiting Maataa Waka and Omaka Marae in Blenheim, Te Āwhina Marae in Motueka and a whānau māra in Mōhua! Our kōrero reminded us that food security lies in seed security and in the land itself. The Kōanga Kai kaupapa is all about supporting whānau food production, from community māra on marae to gardens of all shapes and sizes within people’s homes. We believe that supporting whānau with māra kai is valuable both in terms of the resource of fresh, nutritious kai, but also as a strengths-based solution that incorporates language and culture through kai and kaitiakitanga practices.

We need to understand what “eating well” means in order to understand the role that food plays in the lives of our whānau. Only in doing so will we be able to help them overcome barriers to accessing rongoā kai. Kōanga Kai brings whānau together to share in a safe environment – it is a kaupapa that is Whānau Ora and hauora at its finest.

Juice Day at Te Whenua Taurikura

Earlier this year our amazing HR team launched EatingWell, a kaupapa that supports the health and wellbeing of our kaimahi here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. This is part of our commitment to walk the talk and embed Whānau Ora into our everyday lives. We know that it’s important to take care of our kaimahi so that they can continue the work they do to support whānau and hapori. Eating well recognises that by increasing nutritional awareness and implementing healthy eating habits, we can enhance our health and happiness.

Last week we hosted a Juice Day here at Te Whenua Taurikura, with kaimahi encouraged to make a delicious concoction out of fruit and vegetables, with a prize up for grabs for the most popular juice. It was hot competition but at the end of the day the winners were Tony Waho and Tainui Pompei from the Wai Ora team. Juice Day was a lot of fun and hopefully has also helped our kaimahi with ideas of how they can get extra fruit and vegetables into their diet every day!

In Te Tai Tonga

Paul Searancke celebrated his first week in his new role as Service Manager at Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu Pou Whirinaki ki Te Tai Tonga, Vanessa Whangapirita was there to participate in the shared aim to foster greater understanding and collaboration between the Trust and Whānau Ora. Other kaimahi, Nancy Larrauri, Shahin Pera, Sagar Khemani, Shaun Taane, Charity Wickliffe-Poihipi, and Moira Gerken were also present at the hui.

Employment opportunity at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu

This week we were sad to farewell Islay Hurrell, who leaves us after nearly two years for a role as an operations manager in the construction industry. We are so proud of Islay’s professional development over her time here, joining us as an administration assistant and growing into the role of Executive Assistant and Secretariat to the General Partnership Limited Board. Her new role is an opportunity for her to further that development, and take the next step in her career, and we wish her the very best.

In the meantime, it means that we have an exciting opportunity for a new kaimahi to join the whānau here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. The Executive Assistant and Secretariat to the General Partnership Limited Board provides support to our Pouārahi and Board, ensuring the smooth operation of our executive functions. If you’re a superstar when it comes to organising schedules and managing communications, with a keen eye for detail, you could be the right person for us! Working at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is an amazing opportunity to support whānau aspirations and development, and be part of a passionate and dynamic team. Visit our website to learn more and apply.