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PATU programme aims to inspire Maori to lead active lives

PATU programme aims to inspire Maori to lead active, healthy lives

PATU Aotearoa is a social enterprise that combines group exercise by incorporating high intensity training, healthy lifestyle education with te reo me ona tikanga Maori. The programme aims to inspire whanau to lead more active, healthy and enriching lives while reducing inactivity rates and waistlines.

Jennifer Roberts, Assistant Head of School, Nursing, Eastern Institute of Technology; and Levi Armstrong, PATU Aotearoa Director, spoke about PATU today and its effect on Maori participants at the Public Health Association Conference being held in Otepoti/Dunedin.

Speaking on behalf of the PATU research team, Jennifer talked about the positive effects of the programme on participants.

“We have evidence of holistic health improvements. We know participants have physical health improvements such as weight reduction, decrease in BMI and waist circumference. However, what struck us most from the data was what participants report about improvements in self-esteem, the whanaungatanga (relationships) at PATU, and the strong sense of cultural identity/reinforcement from being part of the PATU whanau.”

To support ongoing research and development, PATU has established a research partnership with the Eastern Institute of Technology. The research findings to date have shown that PATU participants align themselves well with the PATU branding and that the programme provides its whanau with a sense of belonging and identity which affirms self-belief and mana; empowering individuals to take ownership of their health and wellbeing.

“When asked what differentiates PATU from other exercise programmes, Levi Armstrong says, ‘Using a social enterprise model to build a sustainable programme and to ensure the impact of PATU is measured. PATU has been described as a positive gang. Whanau see PATU as an urban marae and a place they want to be’.”

PATU is delivered by Maori, for Maori, using te ao Maori concepts and is currently run at gyms in Hastings and Wairoa, and is offered to Hawke’s Bay workplaces, schools and marae via a team of mobile trainers. PATU have developed a scalable model to build more PATU hubs nationwide through a licensing model, and the programme is negotiating to become available in Kaikohe, Opotiki and Gisborne.

PATU Aotearoa was one of 11 teams selected to take part in the 2014 Launchpad. This joint initiative between the Akina Foundation, Contact Energy and the Department of Internal Affairs, attempts to grow social enterprise ideas. PATU won Launchpad’s Contact People’s Choice Award.

Jennifer Roberts described the success of PATU.

“Its people; the whanaungatanga; It works; the leadership and the leaders’ ability to foster new leaders; the ability to engage all age groups; providing health promotion activity by Maori for Maori that whanau relate to; whanau investing in their own health and being accountable; and mobility – taking PATU to the people (PATU delivers programmes to workplaces, marae, schools, prisons and also has a free downloadable app).”


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