Knowledge and networks help wh¯anau
Hei Whakapiki Mauri, a Wha¯ nau Ora initiative, is helping empower people by bringing together Ma¯ ori with disabilities and their wha¯ nau to awhi (help) each other to gain the confidence and knowledge to be Ma¯ ori first.
Ruth Jones and her husband Gary Williams, both Nga¯ ti Porou and both disabled, called a series of hui designed to empower disabled Ma¯ori and their wha¯nau through knowledge and networks.
‘‘It is first and foremost about celebrating being Ma¯ori and exploring what that means for each individual,’’ Ruth said.
‘‘We have a good life and for us, this is about paying it forward.’’
The Christchurch couple, who run Kanohi ki te Kanohi (Face to Face) Consultancy from home, saw a niche and sought funding last year for a one year pilot program.
‘‘We were delighted to get Te Pu¯ tahitanga o Te Waipounamu support and funding,’’ Ruth said.
Te Pu¯tahitanga, the Wha¯nau Ora commissioning agency, will invest only in innovative approaches to wha¯ nau transformation which bring credible outcomes.
He Whakapiki Mauri held its first Christchurch hui in Halswell in September 2016, bringing together disabled Ma¯ ori, wha¯ nau and support people to korero (discuss) what was important to them.
The group can range from anything from five to 25-30 as awareness grows.
‘‘We’ve identified a real enthusiasm for the project and what it might mean for some of our more isolated disabled wha¯ nau members.
‘‘We wanted to raise the mauri (a key component to understanding wairuatanga or Ma¯ ori spirituality) of Ma¯ ori with disabilities and bring them closer together with their culture and wha¯ nau,’’ Ruth said.
‘‘That’s why we chose the name.’’
The project was also about paying it forward and giving disabled Ma¯ori the knowledge and resources to be who they wanted to be, she said.
‘‘We want our disabled wha¯ nau to have great lives, to be strong, and to grow into leaders of others and in their own lives.
‘‘Hei Whakapiki Mauri is about resourcing wha¯nau to do this.’’
Whakawhanaungatanga (kinship, a sense of shared experience and belonging) was a key part of the Halswell hui.
‘‘Attendees introduced themselves and then explored what was important to them.
‘‘I’m not so concerned with activities people do, but who they are and what they bring to the table,’’ Ruth said.
The other main strand alongside wha¯nau helping whanu is navigator support. Navigator Waikura McGregor works in the field helping the disabled person navigate the system.
Some of the Hei Whakapiki Mauri team from left, navigator Waikura McGregor, Kaiwhakahaere Ruth Jones, assistant Aimee Fowler and administrator Shireen Spaull.