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Turia: Hikoi Koutou Charitable Trust – Waka Launch

Hon Tariana Turia

Associate Minister of Health

Tuesday 25 March 2014
Hikoi Koutou Charitable Trust – Waka Launch


There are some days that stand out above the rest. 8 November 2010 was one of those days.

That was the day Les Hokianga and his dozen champions biked to the Beehive – having cycled almost 300km, competing against headwinds, and freezing southerlies. These weren’t professional cyclists – this was simply a team of men – very big men – who decided they wanted a better future for their whanau.

Many of the men weighed in well over 100kg each – and were struggling to cope with a multitude of complications:

including type two diabetes, heart problems, mobility issues.

But the fact that they got on their bike wasn’t all that blew us away. It was the fact of their faith – their commitment to a journey of health and wellbeing, their common pursuit of a lifestyle change.

It started small – throwing away the meat pie – and ended up a full-scale revolution – changing life-habits, enduring major challenges in nutrition and exercise and eventually even entering into Iron Maori.

But by far the biggest goal l observed was the victory of the spirit. For ultimately the journey was driven by a community who believed change was possible. It was a journey on a whanau scale, with everyone becoming virtual cheerleaders for the cause – having the courage to keep pushing forward.

Today we are here to celebrate the amazing journey towards wellbeing encapsulated in the Hikoi Koutou Charitable trust – psychological, spiritual, physical, social wellbeing.

The two waka we are launching today, represent a journey for life – a health and wellbeing programme to move the waka from Hawaiki to Cape Reinga. The names of the waka are Haonui and Pakere. Their whakapapa, their unique story has been lovingly created by George Nuku, and painted by Thompson Hokianga. Over time, these waka will become known to you all, their story will become your story. I am really pleased to see the support of Te Aka, Totara Health and Choices evident here today – demonstrating these organisations appreciate the importance of taking a whanau approach to encourage everyone onboard.

What this kaupapa shows us is that addressing obesity and the complications created by excessive weight, takes much more than just telling someone to eat well and exercise. And I am reminded of an old Chinese proverb:

Tell me and I’ll forget - show me and I may remember - involve me and I’ll understand.”

What the Hikoi Koutou Charitable Trust has done is to tell the stories, and to inspire each other, to support each other to learn from our atua, to be informed and guided by the examples in our whakapapa and to make the change together – whanau by whanau. I am so proud of everyone who has enrolled in this Hikoi For Life – who has invested in a better future for themselves and the mokopuna that will be forever motivated by the change being made in their name.

I am delighted to unveil these two miniature waka as the most powerful indigenous symbol of a movement for change that we have. My love and my support goes out to you all in your active mobilisation of change that matters – positive change for our collective future.

Tena Tatou katoa.


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