Te Upoko O Ngā Oranga O te Rae
Thursday 1 December 2011;
Koraunui Marae, Stokes Valley
I want to thank Te Menenga Pai Trust in Newtown and Te Paepae Arahi of the Hutt Valley, for the invitation to join with you today.
And a big reason for coming today was to also catch up with Carole Maraku – your Pou Arahi – and someone who I have the utmost respect for.
Carole came from Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority in 2000 to take up the Pou Arahi role – and so we both share a love and a history of the ideas and vision that drove us at Te Oranganui.
I come to this hui, thinking of two very special people.
My thoughts are with the late Rongo Wirepa who was the kaumatua for Te Upoko and the late Blossom Tropman who was a pioneer of whanau based care.
Both Rongo and Blossom shared a love of our people; stopping at nothing to fight for their right to be healthy, to be supported, to be well.
They would go out late at night to attend to whanau in distress, they would work with the police, with the Courts, with the City Council; with community groups; with hapu and iwi, with the DHB, the Ministry – you name it, they would leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of wellness.
There was always a home for the homeless; a welcome place to rest, to recover and recoup.
And so as I prepared for today, and I thought about the themes of your hui – kotahitanga; whanaungatanga; manaakitanga; Whanau Ora – I’d have to say that there were no better cause champions of these kaupapa than Blossom and Rongo.
All of these kaupapa are particularly relevant to mental health and addiction services, because they normalise wellness.
The kaupapa speak of us of universal expectations that everyone deserves the right support in place to achieve health and wellbeing.
It sounds so simple – and it should be – but in this fast and complex world sometimes even the space to find peace of mind is illusive.
And I want to mihi to Lois Ford who with Simon Phillips from Hutt Valley DHB first funded and supported the development of nga oranga o te rae. They believed in your aspirations to establish an approach which was Maori driven and owned.
They opened the door to programmes that aim to improve outcomes for tangata whaiora and their whanau.
And from then on in, it has been all go.
It is fascinating to look back at your history; and the political journey our people have travelled over that time. I well remember the excitement and the pressure back in 1998 when Te Oranganui was part of the first six providers being offered the contract that replaced community support.
It was a big deal for us – trying to work out contract prices and deliverables and insisting that whanau were the solution; the ultimate source of our health and wellness.
We argued that whanau were an integral part of recovery; and that it was whanau who should be defining their own outcomes; outcomes that could be measured as tangible indicators of success.
Funnily enough, thirteen years later as recent as yesterday, I am still immersed in discussions around Whanau Ora; and how will we know when we are successful?
The interesting thing is, it is always so easy for everyone to identify the facts around failure. I have to ask what is it about our society, that we find it so familiar, so easy to identify everything that is going wrong and focus on that.
The last six weeks have provided us with too much evidence about how bad, sad, mad, poor, down and out we are. If you put the effort into making a relationship you’re described as a sell out. If you stand up for what you believe in, you’re separatist. The wealth of human character is assessed by an electronic worm; the body language is analysed; the worth of a person is digested by how well they manipulate a sound byte.
And all the time this large-scale contest is being played out in the media, many of the people you are working with are struggling to survive; searching for a way to get through each day.
Whanau Ora offers us a welcome respite from the circus. The only hoops we jump through are the ones we hold up for ourselves. And you know, once we start looking, we find all the answers have always been there, right within ourselves.
For at its core, Whanau Ora is about placing faith in ourselves; backing ourselves to the hilt; knowing that we can make a difference.
It may not make the headlines – but it is breaking news – for it is about transformation, revolution, liberation – all happening before our very eyes.
And in case there are any doubts, let me share just one of the stories from the over 1800 stories of whanau making plans for their own future, through the Whanau Integration, Innovation and Engagement fund.
In this whanau, illness and unemployment were the major issues making life hard.
This whanau received some support through Whanau Ora for whanau planning. They met as a whanau to discuss what was preventing them from achieving their goals. Some of the whanau shared that they struggled with depression and had real difficulty looking ahead to the future.
The whanau completed a plan over a series of hui and identified shared goals that they could work towards. One major priority was to address the drug and alcohol issues in the whanau and to improve their physical health. They identified healthy eating would be a good start. They thought about tertiary education. They looked into business development. And they focused on connecting with their papakainga.
Now on its own, none of these goals are earth-shattering.
But for this whanau – and cumulatively – the Whanau Plan is the beginning of a wonderful new direction. And the success is enduring - they are more connected with each other, they rely on the collective strengths of each other; they have the potential to address their health and employment aspirations.
They have found that the whanau has become a principle source of strength, of security and identity. And they’ve done it themselves.
I could- if we had the time – provide another 1799 stories of this ilk – case studies of whanau transforming their own future by focusing on outcomes.
Seriously – I would love to do that. Because we need to celebrate our own experiences of triumph; to appreciate the profound change that so many families are doing in shifting from looking to others for support to instead turning to their own whanau for support.
We must accentuate our positives; eliminate the negatives; and promote everything we see and know as contributing to whanau wellbeing.
This collective is a perfect place to start.
Here in this one hui, we can hear the successes that are occurring in Mahia, in Dannevirke, in Johnsonville; in Hastings. Te Puke Karanga Hauora can share the highlights of revolution in Raetihi; there can be stories shared about rangatahi services; reflections on designing an outcomes framework.
We must share these stories – they keep us focused and alert to the possibility of success. We learn from listening to each other; we can consider new ways or reinforce approaches that have worked in the past.
All of us know there will be challenges ahead. The critical thing, is to come together; to collaborate; and to confirm and consolidate.
It’s about taking responsibility for supporting our whanau in coming up with their plan for their future. It’s about believing in ourselves.
And it’s about kotahitanga; whanaungatanga; manaakitanga.
We are at a turning point in our fortunes – we have every opportunity to make success a reality for every whanau. It’s up to us – and I have every confidence we can indeed make that difference felt.
Tena tatou katoa.