Pictured: Linda Steel, CEO Te Ao Hou Trust and Coast Community Board -
Ōpōtiki District Council, Representative.
Linda Steel may hold a number of important titles in front of her name, such as CEO and representative on the Coast Community Board for Ōpōtiki District Council, but at the heart of it all, Linda is a staunch Tōrere local who intrinsically believes that it is at a local level where the solutions can be found and those in positions to support should do so wholeheartedly.
For almost 13 years, Linda Steel has been the driving force behind Te Ao Hou Trust's commitment to a flourishing and connected Ōpōtiki region and says there is so much more to give and do.
“There are many challenges in leading change within a community, by doing so I must start with my organisation”.
In late 2018, Linda in her role as the CEO of Te Ao Hou Trust, successfully applied in becoming the lead provider for Healthy Families East Cape. Healthy Families NZ takes a systems approach to health prevention, which means a departure from the traditional delivery of health promotion projects.
It means considering how the systems that influence our approaches to health, and where best to intervene for optimal health and wellbeing outcomes. Drawing from different types of theories of complexity, socioecology, and systems, Healthy Families NZ explores and adopts sustainable and meaningful strategies to prevent chronic diseases across the whole population.
And so began the journey towards addressing and creating complex systems change, utilising the Healthy Families NZ approach and way of working across her region.
“I have spoken to a number of people about this, about how the Healthy Families NZ approach has changed the way in which I now go about our mahi, and I can share that six or seven years ago, I did not work in the same way I do today.”
The East Cape region is a dynamic and diverse rohe stretching from Ōpōtiki through to Te Tairāwhiti and back through the East Cape, with different lived experiences.
Linda believes there are many opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of our whānau, hapu, iwi and communities by utilising the theory of change that Healthy Families NZ brings to the table, but we have to be brave enough to take the steps necessary.
“As the CEO of Te Ao Hou Trust, I am excited by the mahi that our Healthy Families East Cape team is doing alongside our kaupapa partners and communities, valuing the things that matter.”
Linda is firm in her belief that thinking creatively through being adaptive within a systems change approach to break through the traditional barriers, will drive profound sustainable change. She is also clear in identifying that the work of the Healthy Families NZ movement clearly defines the future way of working collectively for those who favour possibility over pessimism and feel energised whereas others feel challenged.
“One of the things that I’ve been more conscious of as a leader and through my learnings from Healthy Families NZ and innovation is reflective practice. I never used to think about it, but in our tenure as lead provider I am always thinking what works well, what doesn’t work well and how we adapt. It has completely changed the way I work”.
“I notice our communities don’t often reflect on certain issues. For example, when you are supporting a tangihanga, you are there in the moment and then go home, and often no one talks about it and it has impacted upon us. We just go on to the next kaupapa and get too busy to reflect. Reflective practice, for me, is one of the best strategies. It makes me think about what role I play within a kaupapa, and how I manage that space.”
As the CEO, Linda has had to adapt to ongoing environmental and external disruptions in the past few years, including the global pandemic Covid-19 in 2020, and more recently, Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2022.
“Our team make-up across Gisborne and Ōpōtiki means we have had to challenge, often within our own thinking as well, the traditional model of organisations. The team in Gisborne can operate solely, and our team members in Ōpōtiki work well remotely,” says Linda.
“We’ve had to be nimble, and adapt very quickly to sudden challenges and the mindset that comes with being a part of Healthy Families NZ has helped with that.”
Linda has had to make some “seriously courageous” decisions and moves over these past few years, says Healthy Families East Cape Manager Toni June.
“Like many other leaders, Linda wears many different potae (hats) that extend her influence to other spaces with her whānau, hāpori, and as an active member of her iwi, Ngai Tai. This is evidenced through supporting locally-led solutions that have the biggest impact” she says.
The recent health reforms have also been some of the most dynamic times for Linda Steel as CEO of Te Ao Hou, as she has sat alongside other local leaders in the Ōpōtiki District to co-design the localities approach for her region.
I am still not comfortable with being seen as a “leader”, but it is more about how I interact in those spaces. We know our health system is broken, and from the conversations, I’m having with others and there is a real need to harness the power of our indigenous knowledge. This is done by ensuring that we are embedding mātauranga māori in our kaupapa and across our teams.
This will be achieved through the practices of Healthy Families NZ and the systems change and design thinking approach. The localities kaupapa is already embedded with mātauranga māori and we need to explore how the Healthy Families approach is able to enhance this as well.”
The development of localities across Aotearoa is a fundamental part of the reform of the country’s health system. This place-based approach to planning and delivering health and wellbeing services is an exciting opportunity to embed a stronger population health focus across the health system.
“The locality approach operates outside of the system, the big difference is that the system is here to support, not to dictate. That has been the most dynamic shift within the system.”
The roll-out of localities has begun happening over the past twelve months, with Eastern Bay of Plenty succeeding in becoming a localities prototype – one of the first twelve localities in Aotearoa to work towards their locality plan.
New localities have been stood up each quarter so that every area in New Zealand has its own locality by July 2024. This is a collaborative process, with Health NZ launching a national platform where we can share our learnings about this new way of ensuring New Zealanders can access health and wellbeing services, where and when they need it, and in the way that works best for them.
When asked if there were any insights that she’d like to share around the Eastern Bay of Plenty localities design and how the Healthy Families NZ approach can align to permeate better health and wellbeing outcomes, Linda is very clear on her thoughts of the influence of Healthy Families NZ in the localities space.
“I honestly believe that the localities approach is a direct result of Healthy Families NZ.”
“The magic is going to happen in the localities space, not in the system. And so having the system there to support and not dictate, in the same way, we operate with our partners at Healthy Families NZ in Te Whatu Ora, is refreshing and important.”
“It is interesting because all of the kōrero in the localities space is about how we can change the system, or ecosystem and a term that has been used within our locality is about “planting new trees not propping up the old.”
By Roimata Sinclair
Earlier this month, Healthy Families East Cape Rautaki Māori Jade Kameta facilitated an Ōpōtiki Play Steering Rōpū hui which gathered community play champions and representatives from Te Ao Hou Trust, Ōpōtiki Primary School and the Ōpōtiki District Council.
The Ōpōtiki Play Steering Rōpū are well aware of the power in supporting and enabling play in our communities - community wellbeing is improved, social connectedness becomes more commonplace, and barriers to equity are largely removed.
“We are passionate about facilitating the Ōpōtiki Plays Rōpū with the aim to empower communities and give them a stronger voice and role in lifting their own well-being.”
The collective was pulled together by Healthy Families East Cape in 2022, with the aim to demonstrate the value of taking a whole of community approach to help identify the systems and the social and physical environments that affect play.
Top of mind for the rōpū was discussing how the collective could support the exciting Ōpōtiki Taku Hīkoi kaupapa, an authentic place-based story-telling experience unique to the rohe that is planned to launch during Matariki.
Rautaki Māori, Jade spoke about how the rōpū recognised that ‘Taku Hīkoi’ is a great opportunity to prioritise community wellbeing.
“Understanding this means we are now pivoting to ensure that our local community have access to being involved in the kaupapa and realising the current barriers to participation and working to reduce and/or remove them,” says Jade.
‘Ōpōtiki Taku Hīkoi’ is a collaborative initiative led by the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board and Ōpōtiki District Council to create 12 pou whakairo placed along the Motu trails. Each of the 6 hapu from the area will be represented, with their unique pūrakau (stories) and whakapapa shared alongside the pou.
“Here at Healthy Families East Cape we know that environments play a valuable part in the health and wellbeing (hauora) of our people, especially Māori,” says Jade.
“We also know that health is a cultural concept because culture frames and shapes how we perceive the world and our experiences.”
The community led initiative aims to illuminate Ōpōtiki’s authentic stories and design a place-based, outdoor visitor and educational experience. Taku Hīkoi will also be integrated with an app made by Waikato University students, to gain comprehensive insight of the region’s unique culture and history.
“Our vision was to create a heritage trail that would capture the kōrero of the iwi but, it would also be fun and interactive for the whole whānau,” says Anna Kurei, Community Engagement Officer at the Ōpōtiki District Council.
“The idea is that by doing the heritage trail you are learning about the kōrero, ngā taonga tuku iho, from the hapu of the iwi and doing so in a fun way, through the use of technology and taonga tākaro.”
“The app has been designed to work within the rohe to encourage people, especially those from Te Whakatōhea to return home and begin their journey of learning about their tuakiritanga hence the naming of ‘Taku Hīkoi’ (My Journey),” continues Anna.
“Elevating local pūrākau will increase physical activity and play because the pou are located all over the Motu trail, but it will also strengthen people's connection with land, culture, and identity. This has a much bigger and more sustainable impact on the hauora of our people,” says Jade.
“We must continue to support Iwi-led, mātauranga Māori informed approaches to hauora like Taku Hīkoi.”
If we collectively understand that Māori principles and practices have always contained a range of tools and strategies, we can regenerate health. The steering group saw supporting ‘Taku Hīkoi’ as an exciting kaupapa to be a part of as it not only responds to local needs by using local cultural capacity it also continues to evidence mātauranga Māori as an effective health prevention solution.
We look forward to sharing more about the initiative as it develops in the lead-up to the official opening during Matariki.
To get involved in the Ōpōtiki Play Steering Rōpū please email email@example.com
Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa. Let us keep close together, not wide apart.
By Ranui Maxwell
Healthy Families East Cape is proud to be celebrating two years of a Play co-partnership position in Te Tairāwhiti.
The Regional Play Systems Lead is a partnership and co-funded role between HFEC (Healthy Families East Cape) and Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti.
HFEC recognises that shifting the conditions for change includes taking a partnership approach. By taking a collective impact approach, we recognise that sustainable change requires a long-term commitment by multiple system partners from different sectors at multiple levels. The Play position sits within the Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti team, which allows for support from the teams responsible for delivering on-play strategies across Te Tairāwhiti.
There is much to acknowledge over the two years of partnership between HFEC and Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti.
Over the 2020 lockdown, the HFEC team undertook data analysis the lividid voice of the community and of the barriers and general state of play across Te Tairāwhiti. Post lockdown the team presented a walkthrough of their findings which led to forming relationships with key kaupapa partners.
“We've partnered on work that shared research and data to support both of our workspaces and for Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti, gave us another model of thinking to consider - the systems thinking approach really stands out for me on this one”, says Kylie Turuwhenua-Tapsell, Sport Gisborne, Tairāwhiti General Manager.
Mid-2020 saw the then Regional Play Systems Lead, Lena Bevan, move into another role in the district, leaving a very visible gap in the play space for Sport Gisborne-Tairāwhiti, which was beginning to take shape in the direction of Healthy Families East Cape’s kaupapa. When the role was vacated, the opportunity for Healthy Families East Cape and Sport Gisborne-Tairāwhiti to work in partnership, was born. The co-funded partnership allowed for the play position to be increased to 20 hours per week from only 10 hours. Anna Tolich has held this role since 2020 with an explicit focus on elevating the opportunities for Play in the region.
“The opportunity to partner with another community group that has shared outcomes and values as us has been really valuable to get thinking and brains from across both of our organisations into the play mahi and have a joint voice in advocating for play in other sectors”, says Kylie.
One of the key initiatives that Anna has led, is the Neighbourhood Play Systems prototype work alongside the tamariki of Cobham School, Elgin. Anna succeeded in ensuring Elgin was one of four communities where the prototype is being tested around the country.
The comprehensive assessment of the neighbourhood and the surrounds of Cobham School, has evaluated the opportunities identified through an assessment and consultation process, for creating playful neighbourhoods through tamariki-led play initiatives.
The Blueprint from Sport NZ and ARUP is a radical approach to urban design in that it places our kaupapa partners, our tamariki and whānau, at the centre of the design process.
The Bluprint takes a Te Ao Māori view of the health and well-being of the Elgin Community and the broader play system. This reflects the high proportion of Māori who live, learn, work, and play in Elgin and the holistic approach of the Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Manawakura kaupapa. Utilising the Te Ao Māori framework of Te Whare Tapa Whā as a tamariki-friendly urban design tool, has allowed the tamariki to identify five opportunities for a healthy and equitable Elgin Neighbourhood Play System. To read more about the Play opportunities (insert link).
With the collective support of Sport NZ, ARUP and Gisborne District Council, Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti and Healthy Families East Cape explored and tested the Neighbourhood Play System Blueprint of play sufficiency, within the suburb of Elgin and the neighbourhood surrounding Cobham School.
As we move into the next phase of the Neighbourhood Play System prototype, which seeks to experiment and test opportunities identified by the tamariki, we are excited to strengthen enduring relationships with mana whenua, and bring to life the insights and opportunities set out by our tamariki.
“Lots on the plate for next year which starts with working alongside some new additions to the Play Champion space and understanding how we can collectively make an awesome impact on the Play System. Supporting the tamariki voice into action will be high on the to do list next year. Anna and her multi-agency crew have done an awesome job of building tamariki that are now urban designers so bringing their visions to life and having their voice heard by decision-makers is a real focus going forward”.
“The opportunity to influence work in other spaces could have happened without the role being co-funded but does give more weight to the partnership because we have invested in each other's mahi”.
“Connecting to the opportunities and strengths in each organisation gives Anna variety and increases the opportunity to learn and develop. With Anna sharing Personal Development opportunities or engaging in mahi in Healthy Families East Cape it's an opportunity to bring in the different perspectives of people. I know the team strengths activity with the HFEC team definitely gave Anna an opportunity to look at her skills and strengths in a different way”, says Kylie.
Toni June, HFEC, Manager has been part of this co-partnership journey from conception to implementation and speaks to how the partnership approach has had impacted on Play in the region.
“I’ve really enjoyed our partnership with Sport Gisborne-Tairawhiti. Kylie and Stefan’s exceptional leadership has made this a very easy relationship, and the hidden influence of our collaborative approach to the Play role has seen some very deep outcomes achieved by our Anna, including the Neighbourhood Play System and also the impending Play Advocate role to sit within Gisborne District Council that, in itself, is co-funded by GDC and Sport NZ”.
“Looking forward, I can tell that the role of Play across our region, in general, has been brought to the forefront of everyone’s minds, and I can already tell that the co-funded approach of all and any roles in our region are favourable with our changing environments”. Says Toni.
The Neighbourhood Play Systems prototype and co-partnership play position between Healthy Families East Cape and Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti, is an example of what can be achieved when you work towards achieving collective impact. This approach recognises that strong leadership is needed at all levels and creates the space for communities to drive action while acknowledging and valuing the role community plays in determining what they need to thrive.
Partnership in action: Healthy Families East Cape begins a Kaupapa Wellbeing partnership with Te Rōpu Wāhine Toko i te ora Tairāwhiti (Māori Women's Welfare Leauge Tairāwhiti)
“Ko a mātou wāhine te kuaha ki o rātou whānau”
“Our women are the doorway into their whānau”
Healthy Families East Cape is proud to be a kaupapa partner ofTe Rōpū Wāhine Toko i te Ora’s Tairāwhiti branches on their wellbeing journey for wāhine and whānau across Tairāwhiti.
Te Rōpū Wāhine Toko i te Ora Tairāwhiti is celebrating the importance of a Kaupapa Māori wellbeing plan, with Healthy Families East Cape holding space for conversations, wānanga and co-design workshops with members and their communities throughout Te Tairāwhiti.
Te Rōpū Wāhine Toko i te Ora was founded in 1951 to support Māori wāhine and their whānau. The organisation remains the longest and only national charitable Wāhine Māori organisation across Aotearoa, with more than 100 peka (branches) maintaining the collective’s mauri. The organisation’s principles are focused on the wellbeing of Māori wāhine and their whānau.
Healthy Families East Cape Practice Lead, Tomairangi Higgins, has been brought up within the league, alongside lifelong members since the tender age of 5 years old. Adding to the intergenerational membership alongside her grandmother Te Riu Chaffey and her mother Gina Chaffey-Aupouri, who works at a national level as the area representative for Tairāwhiti. Tomairangi is also the President of Ngati Uepohatu peka, upholding another generation of leadership.
Tomairangi speaks of her whakapapa links to the league and how fostering the relationship between Te Rōpū Wāhine Toko i te Ora Tairāwhiti and Healthy Families East Cape is important. The team has had the privilege of being able to hold deep kōrero with members, who spoke of their own whānau aspirations and first-hand knowledge of the needs of wāhine and their whānau throughout our rohe of Te Tairāwhiti.
“Te Ropu Wahine Toko i te Ora are strong advocates for hauora and wellbeing,” says Tomairangi.
“We strive to create and strengthen healthier environments for our whānau by working collectively to enhance kaupapa that directly affect our people in all levels of the system.”
The Kaupapa Wellbeing is about understanding the whānau voice so we can guide and support our communities in taking a preventative approach to whānau well-being.
The strategic intent of the partnership and collaborative approach of Healthy Families East Cape and Te Rōpū Wāhine Toko i te Ora Tairāwhiti takes a whole of-community and whole of systems approach to wāhine Māori wellbeing with the prevention, underpinned by Mātauranga Māori.
“We have a responsibility as members, as wāhine Māori, and as Healthy Families East Cape to uphold the legacy of our tipuna and those who have gone before us, in pursuit of our collective health and wellbeing.”
Workshops and wānanga facilitated by Healthy Families East Cape have been held across Te Tairāwhiti region, our approach is to meet with wāhine in their own communities and environments. Representatives from across Tairāwhiti peka have taken part in the first wānanga held in Tokomaru Bay at the end of September. The second wānanga was held in October in Turanganui a Kiwa.
As the project lead, Tomairangi has used her deep understanding and whakapapa to the league and our wāhine of this region. To facilitate what wellbeing looks like for them and their whānau. We learned that they share similar values for the care of their whānau and the care of the wider community.
We have learned that our wāhine’s wellbeing aspirations are grounded in care for their whānau and community. They have aspirations of collective activities such as working out together, finding and making more opportunities for singing and learning waiata and learning te reo.
“I enjoyed everything, especially the awesome way in which it was facilitated”, I enjoyed listening to the other wāhine and how we share similar ideas about our wellbeing”.
“The importance of whakapapa is paramount when engaging with our whānau who live rurally and are isolated from basic amenities, that we take for granted like being able to visit the doctor and hospitals when we are unwell. It was humbling to understand the lived realities of our whānau and their collective aspirations for their whānau and hāpori”. Says Communications Manager Healthy Families East Cape, Ranui Maxwell.
On 27th September, Healthy Families East Cape’s Tomairangi Higgins alongside Rautaki Māori, Jade Kameta and Communications Manager, Ranui Maxwell went on a haerenga along State Highway 35 to paradise, to connect and understand the lived realities of our most rural communities in our rohe.
One of the Kaupapa wellbeing workshops was held during this haerenga, with Jade Kameta sharing that the experience of being on State Highway 35 itself and reconnecting with his own whakapapa in Ngāti Porou one that grounded the team allowing them to deeply understand the risk factors that impact on the wellbeing of all whānau in our rohe.
The team has now synthesized the insights from the workshops ready to present back to the Māori Women’s Welfare Te Tairāwhiti branch hui this December.
He huahua te kai? E, he wai te kai.
Are preserved birds the best food? Ah no! Water is.
Does waipiro have a place in our whakapapa?
Ōpōtiki’s Muriwai Tournament brings together local hapū and iwi to connect through sport. The tournament has been running for more than thirty-five years, using whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga, and manaakitanga as the guiding principles.
The tournament returned in early October after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions to an excited and passionate Ōpōtiki. The sports played over the two days included rugby, netball, Ki o Rahi, with tamariki having their own allocated day on Friday.
This year, the Healthy Families East Cape team partnered with Whaakatu Whanaunga Trust to bring ‘Pimp my Wai’ to this year’s Muriwai tournament. The Pimp My Wai stall provided fresh wai as well as fruit and mint for whānau to ‘pimp’ their wai.
Healthy Families East Cape works in partnership with the community and sector stakeholders, and to facilitate and support collective and comprehensive chronic disease prevention efforts that focus on alcohol-related harm.
With the up-and-coming review of the Eastern Bay Local Alcohol Policy, Healthy Families East Cape and Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust’s CAYAD kaimahi wanted to gauge the appetite of the community in reducing the consumption of alcohol.
“Inequities in harm can be driven by different determinants such as where we live or the number of alcohol outlets close to our whare,” says Healthy Families East Cape Rautaki Māori, Jade Kameta.
“Just last week, Justice Minister Kiri Allan announced an amendment to the current legislation on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act that will see a shift in power to the community, and we see that as crucial to reducing alcohol harm in our regions.”
The current alcohol legislation can hinder local communities’ ability to put in place rules around the sale of liquor in their area.
The amendments to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 will remove the ability to appeal local alcohol policies (LAPs). The current appeal process is costing councils and ratepayers millions in legal fees, as alcohol companies and supermarkets have thwarted efforts by local councils to limit the sale of alcohol in their communities.
The insights gathered by Healthy Families East Cape and CAYAD at the Muriwai Tournament will form part of a submission to strengthen local alcohol policies for Eastern Bay.
Healthy Families East Cape, along with our kaupapa partners from Whakaatu Whanaunga TrustTikiahi Brown-Davis, Shaun Gebert and Cherish Chase, took the opportunity of the Pimp My Wai stall to ask whānau pātai about choosing Wai Māori over Waipiro, and if waipiro has a place in our whakapapa.
“A lot of our community love alcohol and find it hard to say no, this leads to fights, family violence, family harm, drink driving, criminal activity, and negative influences. This explains why Ōpōtiki does not need more alcohol outlets, but more alcohol help services and positive initiatives to better support the community of Opotiki”. Tikiahi Brown-Davis, Tūhono Mentor
The team also provided whānau the opportunity to answer whether they would choose Wai Māori over waipiro next Matariki.
This is what whānau had to say:
Counteracting this are the statistics surrounding alcohol, of which we know that Māori experience disproportionate harm in Aotearoa.
Ōpōtiki District Council’s region has a population of approximately 9,300 people, with 63% identifying as Māori (according to 2020 statistics). The region also has 22 active liquor licenses, with a higher number of licenses per capita than the national average.
Young Māori (and Pacific peoples) men aged 15-24 years suffer more harm from living in areas with high numbers of liquor outlets compared to non-Māori men living in communities with the same number of liquor outlets.
Data from 2012-2014 showed Ōpōtiki to have higher per capita rates of injury as a result of drunk driving when compared with the national average.
Asking whānau about their appetite to choose wai Māori over Waipiro also curves the narrative from deficit-thinking to a strength-based narrative. Could Matariki be a mechanism for change?
The Healthy Families East Cape team thinks so and sees an opportunity to explore and lean into the rich mātauranga that Matariki provides as a way of kerbing the sale of alcohol during Matariki. What we know about our traditional gorgonian holidays throughout the year is that they are typically intertwined with having a 'cold one'. With Matariki becoming a national holiday this year, we are provided a platform to shift the narratives away from alcohol or waipiro to exclude alcohol from those rituals.
There are also factors at play, including balancing the economic benefits of the sale of alcohol that are powerful and contribute to the inequities in harm that can be driven by where we live.
For example, “Buy now, pay later” (BNPL) options are also coming into effect, making alcohol more accessible and impacting on efforts to reduce alcohol-harm in our community.
“The law isn’t working as intended. Local communities should be able to set their own rules to reduce alcohol harm but are being blocked at every step by the booze industry,” Kiri Allan said.
Healthy Families East Cape has a bold goal of creating safe spaces where we live, learn, work and play which are free from the harm caused by alcohol and reduce the impact of this on our communities, particularly our tamariki.
We are keen to continue to support local government with the review of the Local Alcohol Policies as one tool to manage and control how alcohol is sold and supplied in our Ōpōtiki.
Kayla comes away with an Honourable Mention in her first Start-Up weekend in Tairāwhiti.
The Healthy Families East Cape team is packed with strong independent women, who come from various backgrounds and lived experiences. Kayla Koia (Ngāti Ruawaipu, Ngāti Pokai Ngāti Porou, and Ngāti Rakaipaaka), our Project Coordinator/ Administrator exudes all of these qualities and more.
“I grew up in the Mangatu Forest and Waipaoa Station and have gained experience and understanding from having worked in a variety of different roles over the years,” says Kayla.
“I’ve come from out in the shearing sheds, to assisting in a hospital theatre, to working most recently as an Executive Assistant.”
Start-Up Weekend Tairāwhiti is an annual weekend-long event where entrepreneurs, start-ups, enthusiasts, developers, designers, marketers, product managers, passionate people, and creative thinkers come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch start-ups that will create impact for Tairāwhiti.
This year Kayla participated in her first Start-Up Weekend Tairāwhiti event at the beginning of October, with the promise of networking with like-minded people and lack of sleep.
The theme of this year’s start-up event was “lean in”.
And lean in she did!
While Kayla shared that she felt overwhelmed by the atmosphere, she embraced the challenge of pitching her idea along with 31 other participants. Kayla pitched an idea in the 60 seconds allocated timeframe for pitches, with an idea on how we might create a network for safer communities in Turanganui a Kiwa, in light of the recent events resulting in the deaths of two young Māori wāhine.
“This year brought with it 47 participants, with wahine Māori again leading the pack. 31 pitches were presented on Friday night, which became 7 ideas and teams that worked through the design thinking process”. says Cherish Wilkinson, Start Up Tairāwhiti Weekend Organiser.
Team Kotahi included Kayla and five other members, who presented their idea of a Wellness Centre in Ruatoria, conducting market research, insight gathering, pivoting, and re-writing their pitch.
Final pitches were presented on Sunday to the judges and the public was also welcomed. The team came away with an ‘Honorable Mention’ for their efforts.
“Uniquely Tairāwhiti, everyone brought real community needs and challenges to solve and unpack in this collaborative space. From ways to regenerate whenua whilst remembering lost loved ones, to connecting rural homeowners to tradespeople, to destigmatising conversations about sex and pleasure, there was a real mix of personalities and concepts.” Says Cherish.
"We've had a couple of weeks to reflect on an incredible time that was Startup Weekend Tairāwhiti - lean in. What a magical weekend it was to witness the development and growth of our people. We're so happy we could bring another Startup Weekend to Tairāwhiti this year.”
“The fourth edition since our first in 2018, Startup Weekend Tairāwhiti has delivered a deep learning experience for close to 200 participants, has attracted mentor alumni of around 50 business and community leaders, and involved 20,000 voluntary hours towards supporting Tairāwhiti’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Planning is already well underway for the next event to be held in 2023, one of the best events to undertake your personal and professional development in Te Tairāwhiti.
“We'd encourage anybody who’s looking for deep learning and growth to sign up. Pitch an idea or jump into a team to support someone else's idea. Either way, you'll still get something from the weekend." Says Cherish.
“It’s hard to find the words, I think that SUW is a prime example of kanohi ki te kanohi being paramount to the success of the event. You got to be there and be a part of the whole 54 hours to truly see, feel, understand and learn what it’s all about” says Kayla.
Start-Up Weekend will be celebrated a month after with a Reunion on Wednesday 16th November 2022.
Ko te wai te ora ngā mea kātoa – Water is the life giver of all things
Māori have a special relationship with wai, most believing that the breath of life exists within all of our waterways and some special waterways have an essence within them that gives wairua (spirit) and mauri (life force).
Many bodies of water are recognised as being of value to not only those holding rangatiratanga of the water body but also those around that area who interact and rely on it. Over 100 whānau in the small beachside community of Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast on of the North Island rely on the Enihau water spring that comes from beneath Marotiri maunga and along the Mangahauini riverbed.
While the supply is maintained by the community, there are political, legislative, and economic challenges that prevent access and rangatiratanga to the water supply. In 2021 Taumata Arowai began its role and powers as the new independent water service regulator for Aotearoa, replacing the responsibilities of the Ministry of Health, under the Water Services Act 2021. The Three Waters reform provides an opportunity for communities like Tokomaru to have their lived experience at the center of these reforms.
Although the community of Tokomaru Bay are expert at conserving water there are many challenges that the community face in the supply of water for basic tasks such as washing, cleaning, and as a secondary water supply.
"Everybody in Aotearoa should be able to get drinking water from the tap knowing that it is safe. We should also be able to swim or gather mahinga kai in our rivers, lakes, or at the beach without fear of becoming sick. We have an obligation to ensure this for current and future generations.” Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, said.
The water line is managed by the Enihau Water Board, made up of community members, who have to physically check the line on a daily basis, as well as collect water samples that require testing. Once the water sample is taken from the spring, the sample has to be taken 91kms to Gisborne for testing. Testing of the water is at a cost to the community who are connected to the line and maintained by Enihau Water Board.
The water is collected in the plastic water tank that distributes the water through a plastic water line no bigger than the diameter of an aluminum can. The line stretches almost 20 kilometers along ridges to caveats to whānau, kaumātua flats, and the two Marae: Pakirikiri and Waiparapara. Water from the Enihau is on permanent boil notice, meaning the water must be boiled for consumption.
Flooding to the area at the beginning of the year damaged the water line resulting in the replacement of 10 kilometers of line. These types of activities impact the supply to whānau, who at times are having to pay for water to be brought in via trucks, costs that are challenging for some of our most vulnerable whānau. Especially those who are impacted by chronic illness and disease.
There is a desire and need for the community to have rangatiratanga over their relationship with the wai. Upholding the whakapapa, our genealogical relationship to an intimate interdependency with the wai. The return of our fluency in the communication of the awa, and responsiveness to the needs of our wai.
The means of achieving this vision will require those same political, legislative, economic, and educational tools. Within this vision rests the requirements for us to uphold our mana and ancestral spaces.
There is an opportunity for our local Councils and system players to lean into mātauranga Māori practices that continue to empower and support our community without the financial burden and restricted access to their natural resources.
We know that Iwi and hapu already utilise the skills that were left behind by our tipuna. With the support, they can inform their own uptake, and application of modern technology to maintain our autonomy over our natural resources.
How might this vision be supported by local and central government?
“The Neighbourhood Systems Play Report (NPS) was the best report that I have read at this committee, not a word was wasted,” says councillor Tony Robinson.
The NPS prototype at Cobham School Report was presented by Anna Tolich, the Regional Play Systems Lead for Healthy Families East Cape, Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti to the last sitting of the Operations Committee at Gisborne District Council, for the outgoing Council Members before the October 2022 elections. One Councillor noted, in recognition of the NPS prototype, that we’d saved the best for last.
Healthy Families East Cape was excited by the opportunity to present and enable the momentum to continue for the prototype and for the tamariki of Cobham School. This is a collective impact in action, that can be scaled across the community of Elgin to include other schools and spaces in the next phase of the project.
Anna has spent twelve months engaging with the tamariki at Cobham School alongside of the Tu Manawa team at Sport Gisborne Tarāwhiti to better understand the aspirations of tamariki in their built environment. Anna’s deep research of the suburb of Elgin included a number of trips on the bus routes to better understand the environmental barriers and the impact of years of urban design decisions Anna also walked with the tamariki of Cobham School around the neighbourhood surrounding Cobham School, including the railway corridor and close-by Blackpool Park.
"It was such a great opportunity to be able to present the neighbourhood play aspirations of the Cobham School tamariki to the Operations Committee. The NPS is such a radical approach to urban design in that it places the tamariki as the co-designers of their own neighbourhood. The presentation to Council allowed us to help elevate the Cobham School tamariki as valued contributors to society, giving them the space to participate, assume agency and take responsibility for the design of their own neighbourhood", says Anna.
What we know is that play, and in particular, outdoor play is associated with healthy tamariki and rangatahi healthy development and physical activity. There are attributes of a neighbourhood-built environment that can influence positive play behaviours, with the NPS prototype seeking to kickstart these environmental changes for the neighbourhoods surrounding Cobham School.
Gisborne District Council signalled extensive support from Council members for the prototype. We are excited to understand what a collaborative approach with Council will look like for the momentum of the kaupapa.
As we move into the next phase of the Neighbourhood Play System prototype which seeks to experiment and test opportunities identified by the tamariki, we are excited to strengthen enduring relationships with mana whenua, and bring to life the insights and opportunities set out by our tamariki.
Anna will present the prototype as part of the Healthy Families NZ: Systems Change in Action Webinar Series 2022 on Wednesday 19 October at 11.00 am.
Pictured: Agnes Walker (Healthy Families East Cape Strategic Leadership Member) and Linda Steel (CEO Te Ao Hou Trust and Healthy Families East Cape Strategic Leadership Co-Chair)
You may have heard her name, or seen her around town in Gisborne or her stomping ground, Ruatoria. You may have heard her on the sidelines at Whakarua Park, or caught her on her daily hikoi of 10,000 steps. That’s 10,000 steps every day. With no fail.
Ask anyone in Tairāwhiti about Agnes Walker, and they will surely tell you that it is a name synonymous with Ngāti Porou, with community, with whānau.
It is these very values, along with her extensive experience in policy and in public health that led Agnes on a life-altering path to Healthy Families East Cape, where she now sits on the Strategic Leadership Rōpū.
For the past three to four years, Agnes has been the friendly and vivacious local champion of not only Healthy Families East Cape and the Healthy Families NZ movement, but everything that these organizations stand for.
“Since being Manager of Healthy Families East Cape, I have been learning from international philanthropic organisations and our own Trust Tairāwhiti about the importance of ensuring the resource distributed in the community is achieving equity and enhancing community wellbeing, alongside creating awesome systems which benefit our whānau, hapū, iwi and community,” says Agnes.
After holding the position of Manager for three years, where Agnes was the driving force behind the team’s commitment to improving equity and health outcomes for Māori, she gracefully untied her shoelaces and hung up her boots, and took on the role of Strategic Leader for Healthy Families East Cape.
Agnes’s reflections on her time with Healthy Families East Cape capture her commitment to ensuring that the work is seeded and growing alongside system partners and communities to create healthier environments for the betterment of our people.
“As Strategic Leaders, we help fuel the movement of health prevention across our region,” says Agnes.
“Healthy Families has an overarching model, Kaupapa, building blocks and principles that are fundamental to health prevention. So being able to provide leadership in this space, and socialize those fundamentals, and what it means to uphold them, with my people, is what excited me and continues to excite me about Healthy Families.”
What resonates with Agnes, is that how we participate is by staying true to the kaupapa. We must hold the space and give time for our people, for Māori to tell their story and share their lived experiences.
“Healthy Families East Cape has been able to do this, in a way that is mana-enhancing, and in a way that props up the areas of our region that have previously not had a great deal of opportunity to do so.” Recalls Agnes.
Agnes now works with Ngāti Porou hāpū, striving to achieve systemic change for her people in forever-changing environments and systems.
Agnes has also taken on the wero of being a candidate, with hopes of entering the Gisborne District Council space as a Councillor on the first ever Māori Ward for Te Tairāwhiti.
“Now is the time,” sits at the heart of Agnes’s kōrero, “to ensure Māori voices are at the decision-making table with the mandate to represent whanau and hapu,”
“It is going to take the work of many sectors and individuals to continue building and reshaping our future for health, wellbeing, equity, and a prosperous Tairāwhiti.”
For Agnes, making the shift to run for Council is right for her, but she acknowledges that this move is not right for everybody.
“There are many opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of our whānau, hapu, iwi and communities,” says Agnes.
“We have to be brave enough to take the steps necessary, thinking creatively and adapting within a systems approach to break through traditional barriers.”
One of Agnes’ favourite quotes came from Dr Ganesh Nana, Chair of the Productivity Commission, who presented at the Rau Tipu Rau Ora Summit 2020.
“Dr Ganesh said that wellbeing is about three things: Having access to opportunities, the ability to participate, and having a capacity to contribute. If we can focus on providing all three of these not only will we improve the health and wellbeing of our people but we’ll also achieve greater shared prosperity and a sense of belonging.”
“As a wāhine from Whareponga, what I can say is that the fundamentals and principles of Healthy Families, when working in unison and when upheld by those who have the power, help me and others like me to achieve these three things.”
Healthy Families East Cape thanks Agnes for her leadership, and for her drive to achieve profound transformative change across our locality.