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Tariana Turia at Tū Kaha Māori Health Development Conference

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health

14 September 2012 11.30am

Tū Kaha Māori Health Development Conference 2012
Whanganui Race Course, Whanganui

[Delivered by Amber-Lee Rerekura on the Minister’s behalf]

I want to thank Capital and Coast Health, on behalf of the collective, for the opportunity to speak to this third biennial Māori health development conference.

And I want to especially acknowledge Riki Nia Nia in his role as chairperson of the TŪ Kaha Organising committee; and Gilbert Taurua, Director of Māori Health Whanganui DHB, for the leadership you have shown in bringing this hui together.

You have met together under the inspiration of a great theme – Building on Diversity; Promoting Unity; Creating Shared Solutions. In pursuit of these three goals, I want to share some thinking around Whānau Ora as a means of achieving all three.

And can I say from the outset how absolutely fantastic it is that there are over sixty rangatahi from all over Aotearoa participating in this hui. Our future rests in your hands – our present must therefore be shaped by your solutions, your strategies, your challenges.

They say that the world can change in 24 hours.

That is how I have felt over the course of the last day.

Yesterday, over 1000 Māori travelled to Tūrangawaewae; coming together though a common calling to protect and preserve our rights and interests in water.

At the same time over 300 people travelled here to Whanganui, to create the opportunity to advance our whānau aspirations in health and wellbeing.

While all that was happening our beloved kuia and tohunga Olive Bullock quietly passed away.

Olive was a special soul who gave so much to keeping our hearts strong, our spirits soaring, our whānau together. A healer, a medicinal woman, a person who blessed so many lives through her ministry.

It seemed to me a unique coming together of so many elements of wonder in our lives – water, whānau, and the wisdom of our elders; the spiritual connection to our growth associated with all three.

As I contemplated the significance of this last day, I came across the words of the late Saana Murray, which I want to share with you, as a tribute to Olive; and as a challenge for us all.


Sow your seed of aroha in the four corners of the world
Sharing the plants of te wao nui a Tāne,
the pathway for our human unity,
embrace the pattern of te rau kūmara on your kete
the sustenance of our ancestors for centuries
haere ka hoki mai anō
farewell and return again
for love is the strongest bond of all
and let us share the Pātaka of your universe

Unity; Diversity; Solutions – surely this is the basis of every whānau?

The question is, do we recognise the sophisticated networks of knowledge; the intimate connections that we make that can sustain us into the future?

As we all know, the word whānau, means both to give birth and family; hapū means to be both pregnant and the wider whānau, the clan.

Our reo is so powerful – it reminds us that no-one is alone, no-one is forgotten. While we give birth to another generation; we are also born of a history; a heritage; a genealogy that will sustain us into the future.

It is through whakapapa then that we understand the diverse range of possibilities available to us.

Our tupuna knew only too well the power of positive thinking; the force of optimism. Throughout pregnancy there were rituals to observe and karakia to recite. Oriori would be sung as the newborn child entered the world – lullabies which provided a way to frame the world for that child – the stories, the whakapapa, the history that was theirs to learn.

Through all these means, whānau would provide opportunities for the awakening of that child. They might identify associations that could link that child to one of their ancestors. These were strength-based solutions long before they were considered items on a health workforce agenda.

In essence, Whānau Ora builds on these long-held practices of looking inwards for our answers – turning to our own relationships across whānau as the means for improving our outcomes in every realm.

When I talk about Whānau Ora I often think of it in terms of transformation.

Transformation literally means, the state of being transformed, the impact of a new direction.

It can also mean a metamorphosis of sorts, like the remarkable lifecycle we see in the natural world from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. At each stage of this amazing process there are distinctive roles – the caterpillar must eat everything in sight; there is a process of rest and rebuilding; and then the butterfly takes flight.

In much the same way, our whānau need opportunities to learn – to devour information and knowledge that is grounded in their experience.

They need time for a journey of self-discovery which will enable them to literally fall in love with their history; with themselves. It is important that anyone working with whānau understand they are not there to fix whānau up – they are there to make sure that whānau can access the range of supports they need to be able to build their own strengths; so that they can be in charge of their own futures.

And so, intuitively, we must trust our whānau to be the architects and artists of their own grand plans. One of the biggest challenges in implementing Whānau Ora is to keep the focus on whānau and make sure that things don’t get tied up in the compliance industry of bureaucracy.

Of course we must continue to build provider capacity and capability – but we also need to find innovative ways of building whānau capability.

While I am talking about the challenges of implementation I want to also refer to the thorny issue of privacy. One of the challenges we face is how to communicate the good stories of whānau change without breaching the privacy of the whānau concerned. Deep change and transformation can take time, and there will always be ups and downs along the way. It is important that we never place at risk the vital significance of whānau outcomes by unwittingly exposing whānau to public scrutiny and criticism.

One other issue I want to raise around privacy is that we must never be so rigid in our interpretation of privacy requirements that we act as an obstacle to whānau being able to exercise responsibilities to their own.

That is where high quality training for whānau navigators is so critical.

Within the Central DHB region, there are twelve Whānau Ora collectives – each of us must be guided by the aspirations that are meaningful for the whānau you are working with – and firmly driven by outcomes.

Throughout your hui, you have come to know more about Kia Ora Hauora – the Māori Health Workforce Development Programme; and Te Pātaka Uara - which seeks to provide national consistency in standards of practice and professional development for Māori community health workers working with whānau.

You will also have shared strategies and stories from Titoko o Te Ao – a leadership training and development programme in relation to the provision of Whānau Ora strategies, services and programmes.

As well as that you will have experienced the fresh new ideas of the Tū kaha workforce development initiative which focus on encouraging and inspiring rangatahi to believe in Māori health improvements.

You will have no doubt learnt a bit more about the E-mentoring framework to support rangatahi through E-technologies; the Trade Exhibition will have generated new ideas; the wealth of keynote speakers will have challenged you to think beyond what you already know.

All of these workforce development initiatives can only enhance the capacity of our health services to respond to the aspirations of whānau.

I urge you to take every opportunity to spread your wings and fly – to take up new learnings; to test interesting ideas.

But I want you to always recall the message of Saana Murray – to carve out a pathway forward through the sustenance of our ancestors for centuries.

Our every step into the future can be strengthened through the learnings of yesterday.

Finally, as I return to my thoughts of sadness at the passing of those we love; one of my greatest hopes is that as a grandmother I have prepared my mokopuna to appreciate the gifts and legacies that will always be part of who she is.

For me, Whānau Ora is knowing that if we have done our job well, our mokopuna will always feel the richness of opportunity that their genealogy enables them.

Our mokopuna will inherently understand that their greatest strength is in our collective force; that we have responsibilities and obligations to one another that require us to open our arms; to welcome whānau home.

And most of all our mokopuna will know the beauty and the security that defines us as whānau; that builds our understanding of the very essence of who we are.

Tēnā tātou katoa


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