Turia: National Tamariki Ora Conference
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
Tuesday 25 March
National Tamariki Ora Conference
Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Hastings
I am really pleased to be with you this morning at this National Tamariki Ora conference. It is a perfect opportunity to be able to recognise the contribution that Well Child Tamariki Ora makes to the health and wellbeing of our tamariki mokopuna.
Throughout the course of this week, as well as here in Heretaunga, I will be in Ohakune, Palmerston North, Wellington, Upper Hutt, Auckland, Waitangi and Waiheke Island before finally on Saturday I return to Whanganui.
Now there’s nothing exceptional about my schedule this week, but I am especially anxious about the travel arrangements – and it has nothing to do with the weather.
It’s all due to the imminent arrival of a very special mokopuna tuarua.
As the days edge closer to our due date, all our thoughts are focused on the new baby to be born.
There is nothing quite as joyful as the anticipation as we await this new extension of our whakapapa – who will they look like, what will be their special gifts to share, so much to learn about the treasure this child will represent.
And so of all the hui I am going to this week, this one has a very special meaning for me as we work towards how to best nurture and protect pinepine te kura – the precious children in our life.
I want to start as I mean to go on, by reminding ourselves of the essential truth left for us in the foundational document ‘Puao Te Ata Tu.’
After consulting whanau right throughout the motu, John Rangihou brought together one very simple statement - the wellbeing of tamariki Maori is inextricable from the wellbeing of their whanau.
By this he meant that the physical, social and spiritual wellbeing of a Maori child is intimately connected to the sense of belonging to a wider whanau group.
Whatever we want for tamariki will only be possible when whanau themselves are engaged in making the decisions that will affect them.
I have every faith in our families to make those decisions, to dream big, to hold the highest hopes for our children.
Like all of us here – they want tamariki Maori to grow in an environment that affirms their culture and language.
They want tamariki Maori and whanau to have every opportunity to connect with their Maori identity.
And they passionately want to be involved in designing solutions to ensure the wellbeing of their tamariki.
In the programme issued for this hui, my session was entitled Whanau Ora and Tamariki Ora.
There’s one thing wrong with that title – that’s the word ‘And.’
Because actually Whanau Ora is Tamariki Ora. Tamariki Ora is Whanau Ora. They are one and the same.
The premise on which Whanau Ora is based is that whanau is a vital source of identity, security and strength and as such our whanau are also a powerful source of motivation for change.
I think it is a great opportunity throughout the conference to really focus on what whanau want and how you can support them to get there.
As there is no national body or organisation of Tamariki Ora providers, a key purpose of this conference is to bring together Tamariki Ora providers to meet, build relationships and share strategies and stories of success.
In light of our location here in Heretaunga, I want to refer to a couple of local stories, to stimulate some of our discussions today.
Firstly I acknowledge Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga - the largest of the six hauora providers under Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated.
Within the umbrella of Te Taiwhenua, there are many programmes to support the health and wellbeing of whanau through primary care services.
This encompasses everything from a general practice clinic, the Well-child Tamariki Ora Programme, a school-based nursing service, a low cost oral health clinic and community health initiatives.
The services cover the wider Hawkes Bay region, as well as Wairoa and Central Hawkes Bay, Tararua and Wairarapa.
And if that sounds a lot – well I’m sure it’s also well known to all of you.
Because in reality what Well Child Tamariki Ora does in supporting whanau health and wellbeing is to provide an important gateway by which all range of services and programmes can be accessed.
But here’s the thing – the last thing we want for something like Te Taiwhenua is that it turns into a supermarket of services with a complex network – a one stop shop of everything imaginable.
We want all that – but tailored to the needs of whanau.
If we take a whanau-centred approach that means that whanau are in the driving seat – they choose the best options that meet their needs. With many of the whanau in Whanau Ora they have appreciated the support of a navigator who works with them to identify their needs, develop a plan and then create a pathway forward.
I understand that the Well Child Tamariki Ora Quality Improvement Framework also focuses on doing much the same thing – improving coordination so families don’t have to navigate aisle after aisle of services on display.
The key thing about being whanau-centred is starting with the whanau as your reason – not the service, the programme or the provider.
The other story I want to share comes from the action research report of Hawkes Bay Hauora Whanau Ora. One of the greatest learning’s taken out of the action research was that whanau success is consistently achieved when whanau members themselves take the responsibility for coordinating and organising themselves as a group.
The case study I want to share is one about whanau leading safer homes. The whanau involved all identified as being caught up with family violence. Whanau goals included making their homes safer for children, providing support to each other, providing support to connect to their whakapapa and addressing the violence that had affected them in the past.
But what was so wonderful about the wananga they held, was in watching the whanau taking leadership to create change.
Although the reason for them coming together was to address safety, they reached out to far wider aspirations – including living healthy lifestyles, improving their education possibilities, learning more about their whakapapa.
I think that’s one of the really exciting outcomes of taking a Whanau Ora approach – is being open to the possibility of transformation. Being prepared for our paths to move in different ways, believing that if we make the right choices our lives can change in ways which will benefit all.
Finally, my thoughts return again to the advent of our new mokopuna.
How often when we talk to our babies, do we open our arms as wide as they can stretch and tell them we will love them to the moon and back.
I truly believe that Whanau Ora Tamariki Ora is about showing that love in abundance – making it visible that we want the world for them – our precious new soul, Pinepine te Kura.
I wish you endless enthusiasm in thinking creatively about how we can all work together to shape a world in which our whanau are supported to achieve the aspirations they all seek for themselves. Tena tatou katoa.