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Marae innovator named Maori Public Health Champion for 2015

Marae innovator named Maori Public Health Champion for 2015

Public Health Association media release, 8 September 2015

Embargoed until 9pm, 8 September 2015

Manager of Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae in Mangere, Auckland – Valerie Teraitua – was named Maori Public Health Champion, Tu Rangatira mo te Ora for 2015, at the Public Health Association’s Annual Conference in Dunedin tonight. The annual award recognises outstanding achievement and leadership in Maori public health.

“We nominated Valerie for the award because of the work she has done to support the development of leadership skills among Maori young people over the last 15 years,” says Suaree Borell from the Maori nutrition programme Toi Ora, who nominated Valerie.

“She has approached this task innovatively, working with an holistic model of wellbeing, and using the marae garden as a place of learning for rangatahi (young Maori). These rangatahi have been nurtured and supported by Valerie to undertake leadership roles including whaikorero, and also participate in research projects focused on injury prevention, alcohol and healthy kai (food).”

Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae has recently been verified and validated as an organic garden and workplace by Te Waka Kai Ora, Maori Organics Aotearoa.

“This has been a five year journey,” Valerie Teraitua says, “of learning and implementing the principles of Maori organic growing (Huaparakore). Food is medicine and medicine is food.

“Eating healthy, organically-grown kai, and incorporating fitness into the daily routine of our families have been two of the most important aspects of our work.”

Around 100 Maori from the local area attend fitness programmes at the marae everyday and the results have been transformational, says Valerie.

“We believe that happy mums equals happy children. One of our groups has lost a total of 200 kilos. The wahine say they have more energy, more confidence and more self-esteem. They report that they are also more organised with their children.”

Reflecting on being Tu Rangatira mo te Ora, Valerie said she was ‘blown away’.

“I am motivated by my own whanau; that is my inspiration for this work. My tamariki, whanau, mokopuna, I’ve always been passionate about people. I am delighted to receive the award which has made me reflect on the progress and impact of my work.”

Suaree Borell, said, “Valerie’s support and commitment to Kai Maori Kai Ora in all aspects of the marae are examples of a sustainable, grounded and connected community action. Papatuanuku Marae is a celebration of Maori leadership and vision, their legacy to grow future leaders across the board is a significant contribution to future Maori health gains.”


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