The month of September is an annual month of celebration and education of bees run especially by Apiculture New Zealand.
Each year, the annual events' aim is to get all New Zealanders taking action to support and protect bees and bring awareness to the important role that they play in both our kai and environmental ecosystems.
In 2020, during the explore and research phase of the collective Te Mahinga Kai o Tairāwhiti, which is backboned by Healthy Families East Cape, the team connected with local Beekeeper, Bee champion and member of Apiculture New Zealand, Barry Foster.
Meeting Barry and bringing awareness to the importance of bees was a massive highlight of that entire mapping phase of our local food system," says Healthy Families East Cape's Strategic Leadership Rōpū member, Agnes Walker.
The Healthy Families East Cape team vividly remembers the encounters with Barry during the mapping phase of the local food system and the deep discussions around what actions need to be taken to support the health and resilience of our bee populations.
"It's all so intricately connected, whether you're eating the food that is directly pollinated or you're eating something that depends on that pollinator," Agnes said. "It's a domino effect."
The climate crisis has taken a toll on our pollinators, with Ministry of Primary Industries reporting in 2021 the overall annual loss rate of bee colonies over winter to be 13.6%, or about 109,800 colonies.
As part of their endeavour to raise awareness of bees in schools, Barry, along with his colleagues Steve Jackson and John McLean from Apiculture NZ visited schools across the Tairāwhiti region during the month of September.
Our local tamariki were given the chance to meet beekeepers, learn about bees and how a hive works and enjoy some honey tasting.
Healthy Families East Cape brokered a relationship between Barry and Cobham School, ensuring the community and students of Cobham were able to take part in the Bee festivities for the month.
On the 20th of September, Cobham School students were treated to a day of everything Bee-related including honeycomb, beekeeper protective clothing including veils for the tamariki to try on, and also live bees in an observation hive box.
Te Mahinga Kai o Tairāwhiti steering group member and Principal of Cobham School, Gina Lean, was excited to have her tamariki be a part of Bee Awareness Month.
"The collective mahi that is being done in our suburb of Elgin, including the planting of native trees behind our school, the raised awareness of healthier and more people friendly environments and neighbourhoods, have all led to Bee Awareness Month and Barry's visit to our school,
"For the kids to now learn about bees and how they're critically important to our food and lives is such a milestone in their learning journey," says Gina.
Excited tamariki from Cobham School shared the below about their day with Barry:
John McLean, a retired Professor of Entomology, took the tamariki through an engaging lesson around the basic anatomy of bees and insects, with tamariki able to see dead bees, look at them from an anatomical perspective and deepen their understanding of the pollinator.
Healthy Families East Cape Manager, Toni June, welcomed the learning of the importance of honey bees, especially in the building of a local food system that is dependent on our environment.
"Perhaps the greatest win of the day was creating Bee champions in the tamariki, and watching them get excited about understanding the bees anatomy, the different types of bees and their roles, and that they pollinate our plants that end up as food on our tables," said Toni.
"Steve Jackson even held up a branch from an orange tree, and for the tamariki to understand that bees are what help the oranges grow, and what that means for other vegetables and other plants that depend on bees and pollinators."
As an added bonus, Gina Lean has advised that Matua Kahurangi of Cobham School, in being inspired by Bee Awareness Month has utilized word play to articulate the values of the kura.
“Matua Kahurangi worked with the tamariki and came up with some new values for our kura: Bee Wise, Bee Humble, Bee Aroha, Bee Nurture, Bee Attitude, Bee Unique, Bee kind, Bee respectful, Bee the tahi and do the mahi,” says Gina.
“This is a nod to the importance of bees in our ecosystem, and translating that to our school values. We loved everything we learned, and now it’s top of mind every day.”
Barry and the team at Apiculture NZ are encouraging New Zealanders to learn about bees and what we can do to help care for them.
Healthy Families East Cape look forward to continuing our relationship with Barry and further understanding what actions we can take as a region to protect bees, and therefore become more food resilient and food sovereign ourselves.
“It’s about making the public aware of the importance of bees in pollinating all of the food we depend upon in our diets,and for the benefit of the wider environment. For example our native bee species are vital in the pollination of many of our native plants in order for them to set seed.” says Barry.
Nā Ranui Maxwell raua ko Tomairangi Higgins
“Te tika ka mōhio, te pono ka mārama, te pūrākau ka maumahara te ngākau.”
Ko a mātou pūrakau kei te ia o a mātou mahi katoa, kei roto i ngā takitakinga o a mātou karakia, kei roto ano i te tangi o a mātou waiata, ka kitea ki roto i a mātou whakairo, kei roto i a mātou kowhaiwhai e iri ana ki ngā pakitanga o a mātou wharenui.
Kei roto ano i a mātou mahinga toi, te tuhi o te tā moko e mahana ai te kiri. Ka kitea ano hoki ki roto i a mātou ingoa wahi, ki ngā tohu whenua me ngā wāhi tapu makona ano hoki ko ngā ingoa whānau e whakamana ana i te whakapapa o tātou te Māori.
Ko He Oranga Whānau Te Tairawhiti tētahi o ngā peka o roto i te kāhui o He Oranga Whānau Aotearoa. E āhei ana ki te whakapakari i te hauora o a mātou whānau mā te anga atu ki te taiao e noho ana, e ako ana, e mahi ana, e takaro ana a mātou whānau Māori. Ka tirohia mātou ki ngā āhutanga pūnaha e aupēhi ana i te orangatanga o ā mātou whānau o roto i Te Tairawhiti.
Ka whakamahia e He Oranga Whānau o Aotearoa i te pūrakau hei huarahi whakawhitiwhiti mātauranga ki a ora ai ngā akoranga, ngā kōrero me ngā whakapapa hei whainga mo āpopo. E whakamahia ana ano hoki mātou o He Oranga Whānau Te Tairawhiti i ngā wāriu o te pūrakau hei orangatonutanga mo ā mātou hāpori huri noa i te rohe.
Ehara i te mea ko te pūrakau he kupu noiho, ēngari he hōhōnutanga ano tōna. Ko tōna rite mēna wāwātia te kupu pū-rakau ka kitea ano tōna ake hōhōnutanga e rite ana ki te pū o te rākau me tōna hononga ki te taiao.
Ko te ritenga o te rakau he pēra ki te ao Māori me to mātou nohotahitanga ki te taiao. Ka kitea tenei kotahitanga ki roto i a mātou tikanga, o mātou nei kawa, me te momo o te Māori. Ko ēnei wāriu e noho tata ki a mātou o He Oranga Whānau Te Tairawhiti
E nui ake te hōhōnutanga o te pūrakau ki tā te kupu, he hōhōnutanga we honohono ai te ao tawhito ki te ao hurihuri. Kia mātou o He Oranga Whānau Te Tairawhiti he momo tō te pūrakau ki a mātou mahi katoa, kia ea ai ngā wawata i waenga nui i o mātou hāpori.
Ma te pūrakau ka kitea the whakapapa o te kōrero, te hononga o ngā tikanga me ngā wāriu ki ngā āhuatanga o te wā me te taiao hoki. Ko ngā reanga whakawhitiwhtinga ka ora ai te pūrakau ki roto ia mātou mahi katoa. Ko tā Jade Kameta te Rautaki Māori mo He Oranga Whānau Te Tairawhiti, “mā te maramataka ka kitea ano te hirahira o te pūrakau. Ko te tuāpapa o ngā pūrakau Māori e āhei ana ki te tirohanga o te ao Māori. Na roto i ēnei tikanga ka kitea ngā pūrakau pēra ki Te Orokohanga o te Ao, Te Wehenga o Ranginui me Papatuanuku, ngā pūrakau a Maui me te mātotoru ano o ngā pūrakau Māori.
Ma te mōhio ki te hirahiratanga o te pūrakau ka mārama ano hoki ki ngā tikanga o mua me pēhea ano te whakaraupapa i enei tikanga ki roto i te ao o inaianei, ki roto ano i ngā whakahaerenga ārai hauora. Me anga tōtika mātou o He Oranga Whānau Te Tairawhiti ki te whakamana i ēnei pukenga pūrakau hei huarahi whakamua mo te orangatonutanga o ā mātou hāpori huri noa i Te Tairawhiti ki roto ano i Opotiki.
E pūmanawa ana mātou ki te wāriu o te whakaawhitiwhiti pūrakau hei orangatonutanga mo te hauora o ā mātou whānau, hapu, iwi. Ko te ataahutanga o ngā pūrakau e kore e rite, he huarahi oranga mo te katoa.
I tēra marama i hanake a Jade Kameta rāua ko Tomairangi Higgins te kaiwhakahaere o He Oranga Whanau Te Tairawhiti ki te hui o He Oranga Whānau Kahui Māori ki roto o Kerikeri. He ropu whakatenatena i ngā akoranga me ngā tikanga Māori ki roto i ngā mahi huri noa i ngā pekanga tekau mā tahi (11) I raro I te tāhuhu o He Oranga Whānau Aotearoa.
Ko tā Tomairangi, “Te ataahua o te noho tahi a ngā taina me ngā tuakana i raro i te whakaaro tahi, mā te whakawhanaunga ki a mātou hoa mahi o pekanga ano ka kitea te hirahiratanga o ēnei mahi”. E anga whakamua tonu ana mātou o He Oranga Whānau Te Tairawhiti kia kitea te puawaitanga o ngā whakaaro, mā te pūrakau ka kitea he huarahi ano ki te orangatonutanga o a mātou whānau, me te honohononga whakapapa e kore e taea te māwehe. Mā te whakamahi me te whakawhitiwhti pūrakau ka ako, mā te ako ka mōhio, mā te mōhio ka mārama, mā te mārama ka mātau. Ka tutuki te orangatonutanga ā whānau, ā hapu, ā iwi.” Tihei Mauriora.
The Power of Pūrakau in Health Prevention
“Tell me the facts, and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth, and I’ll believe, but tell us the story, and it will live in my heart forever."
Our stories are everywhere - in the karakia we say, the waiata we sing, in the carvings and kowhaiwhai that adorn the walls of our wharenui, the intricacies of tā moko that are etched into our skin, our place names, and even the names we carry.
Healthy Families East Cape is part of a nation-wide health prevention initiative that seeks to shift conditions in order to create healthier environments where our people live, learn, work and play.
We take a systems approach to improving the health and wellbeing of our people in order to prevent chronic illnesses.
As we move through unsettling and exciting times across Aotearoa-New Zealand, not only in health prevention, but across all ecosystems, we are seeing more and more evidence of a health prevention system that is centered around Te Ao Maori and Matauranga Maori.
Healthy Families NZ uses storytelling as a vehicle for communication, and affirming our narratives in our systems change approach. If storytelling is one of the mechanisms for change, imagine the power of pūrakau in shifting mindsets and behaviours beyond myths and legends.
Healthy Families East Cape is exploring and demonstrating how pūrakau can influence practice and provide a framework that can be applied across our locality.
Pūrakau isn’t just a translation of the word storytelling - pūrakau goes much deeper.
The literal translation is pū (roots/base) and rākau (tree). They are words that relate to our natural environment.
The imagery of the tree reflects our cultural understanding of social relationships and our interconnectedness with each other and the natural environment. This is evidenced in our whakapapa and protocols and for Healthy Families East Cape, it provides us a blueprint or avenue back towards Mātauranga Māori as a health prevention system.
The power of pūrakau comes from more than just transmitting ideas, but from creating shared meaning and linking identities.
For Healthy Families East Cape, the importance of storytelling and pūrakau to establish and build identity contributes to an ability to co-design, collaborate, and redirect resources towards prevention.
It also serves as a way of distributing knowledge, values, protocols, and our worldview.
Pūrakau is multifaceted in terms of the messaging, multi-layered in terms of the audience, and multipurpose in terms of its application.
“Maramataka is an example of all of these,” says Healthy Families East Cape Rautaki Māori Jade Kameta.
“Māori narratives are based on an indigenous worldview that serves as the philosophical underpinning of our culture and identity,”
“This enables us to engage in thought provocation as well as group problem-solving. Examples like Te Orokohanga o Te Ao (the creation story), the separation of Ranginui and Papatuānuku, the pūrakau of Maui, and many other pūrakau.”
As a result, pūrakau is critical for understanding traditional practices and how these are applied in a modern context, and in health prevention.
Healthy Families East Cape has an explicit focus on improving equity, health and wellbeing outcomes for Māori across our locality, that stretches from the Ōpōtiki district all the way through Te Tairāwhiti.
We have a belief in using pūrakau to reshape our approach to our health and wellbeing. The beauty of pūrakau is that they can provide a roadmap and holistic approach that anyone, not just Māori, can participate and apply to individuals and their whānau. Pūrakau can also be unique to our region, supporting and affirming their place and identity.
Last month, Jade Kameta and Healthy Families East Cape Practice Lead, Tomairangi Higgins, travelled to Kerikeri to meet with other Healthy Families NZ localities as part of Te Kāhui Māori Healthy Families Community of Practice (COP), a rōpū within the Healthy Families national network that has a sharp focus on driving positive change and narratives for Maori.
“Scaling up at a national level has never been more of an opportunity than it is now” says Tomairangi
Healthy Families East Cape continues to focus on shifting mindsets beyond the status-quo and using pūrakau as a vehicle of communication, utilising the power of our whakapapa to connect in a diverse range of settings.
“The more we share our pūrākau, the more we learn. The more we learn, the more we grow. The more we grow, the closer we are to achieving wellbeing as individuals and as a collective.”