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Māori Parenting Course already a hit

Māori Parenting Course already a hit

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has commended programmes that rise up out of the community that work ‘with’ families, as opposed to interventions that do things ‘to’ families. She was speaking as guest of honour at the recent launch of a new parenting course for Māori parents called Building Awesome Whānau Toolbox. The launch, held at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Henderson, was hosted by Pio Terei who helped lead the development of the course. “A large part of this course is delivered through videos which feature Māori celebrities like Stacey Morrison, Henare O’Keefe and Tina Cross,” says Pio. “I like the fact that, as well as the celebrities and presenters, there are also lots of parents on these videos, Māori parents in real families with real problems, just like the people doing the course. The whole idea is that even young, shy parents will relax, relate to the people on screen and take away heaps of good ideas to try.”

Pio is well known as an entertainer; less well known is the fact that he has been presenting the Parenting Show with Pio to mainly Māori audiences throughout New Zealand for more than a dozen years. His passion for helping families has been combined with proven, research-based material to create a new six-session course called Building Awesome Whānau Toolbox. “I’ve wanted to create this for years. I know my Parenting Show goes over well with Māori audiences and gives some good skills and encouragement, but I wanted them to have more – a whole parenting course with a genuine Māori flavour,” says Pio. “My whānau at The Parenting Place have been awesome at bringing all the ideas and people together to make it happen. Lots of consultation happened to make sure this is the real deal. This isn’t some imported course with a plastic tiki stuck on it – when you see the faces and hear the voices you know it has a Māori heart. It’s got more than just heart, though – there’s lots of very cool modern ideas and research in there as well.”

The Building Awesome Whānau Toolbox has been developed from scratch by The Parenting Place. “We have worked with the Ministry of Social Development in the past and I am sure they will be very interested in this project because it is a response to feedback from the community,” said Bruce Anderson, CEO of The Parenting Place. “We are a charity and this project has been developed using funding raised entirely from the community and an immense amount of goodwill from those involved.” The project, the writing and choice of material has been a collaborative effort. There was consultation with kaumatua, the public at hui, educators, Toolbox facilitators, parents and partners in the social service field. “Minister Bennett is here because she’s seen the effectiveness of other things we have done for parents in the past. I know she will be keeping a close interest in results from the new course and its development” said Anderson.

Even before it was launched, 50 groups of parents have already experienced the Building Awesome Whānau Toolbox parenting course. “The feedback is overwhelming. People love the humour, the way they can relate to it and understand it so easily,” says Gill Williams, Toolbox Manager at The Parenting Place.

The course is in English but liberally augmented with Te Reo, Māori cultural concepts and whakataukī (proverbs). “It’s just what people have been asking for for years: a home-grown parenting course with a genuine Kiwi feel. This new Building Awesome Whānau Toolbox is a response to requests from both Māori and social service agencies for a parenting course more suitable for Māori parents. Even though it is tuned for Māori, we have already had very positive feedback from Pākehā as well. One group that used it in Otara were all Tongan and they also related very well to it. We are very proud of this project but, because it is new, we are cautious to say that we’ve got it 100% right, straight off,” says Gill Williams. “It can grow and change in response to feedback and research but, I have to say, the first people to do the course have raved about it!”

“We already have a lot of experience with our four other Toolbox parenting courses,” says Williams. “5000 parents do these courses every year – more than 40,000 to date – and third party research shows they have a real impact on parents’ skills and confidence. Māori make up 14.6% of the New Zealand population; the fact that 25% of our participants are Māori shows we must be doing a few things right in our existing programmes. I am sure this new course will be even better at meeting the needs of Māori parents.”


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