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Life changing impact of Mana Wahine programme
Aroha permanented a hotel boardroom as 11 women - empowered and enthused - graduated from a life changing Tui Ora programme.
The Mana Wahine Collab started eight weeks ago in an initiative developed by Tui Ora, Sport Taranaki and Māori Women's Welfare League.
The programme saw the women gather twice-weekly during July and August to learn about the benefits of being physically active, eating and cooking well, goal setting, parenting, budgeting, taking care of themselves and their whānau and learning to bond as a group.
Most of the women, who identify as Māori or Pacifiska, are mothers; many battle low self-esteem, lack of motivation, weight issues or addictions. But after last week's graduation they are universally positive.
After receiving goody bags and being draped in a special korowai, they spoke of their resolve to stick to a healthy path and of how much courage they’d gained.
Confidence had soared for Michelle, who said she felt empowered and able to go out anywhere.
“It’s had a huge impact on my health. I choose my kai more wisely and I’m doing different cooking.
“I knew people before but the ladies I met here, you could say we have become life-long friends. The teachers – they have given us huge guidance.”
Tina said she didn’t usually speak publicly but was taking this unusual step because she was so grateful and the programme had a “massive impact on her life.”
Before it stared she was a in a bad space, lacked direction and felt unfulfilled. Now she’s healthier in a range of ways, setting goals, more financially stable, a better mother who is more active with her two children. She’s also a coach of a Taranaki girls’ rugby team and is now banding together with others on the programme to set up a catering venture.
Renee said the connections with other wahine was a blessing. “It’s difficult to approach women around my age for friendship and that has been a huge accomplishment.” A writer who used to journal, she has poured creativity into a treasured scrapbook. She read out a piece on courage, emphasising the need to reach beyond our comfort zone. The programme challenged her but each challenge she faced made the next one easier to get through.
Courtney delivered a competently written speech, detailing the steps the programme had taken, noting that they had been reminded of the joy of self-care and self-love; the positive impact it had on them and their whānau. Their pampering ranged from bra and sports shoe fittings to learning yoga, having their nails done and – for some of them - receiving dressings through Dress For Success.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, a place to feel safe, loved, empowered, motivated. No words or actions could thank each one of you [the tutors] for the effort you have put into this programme. Every day I feel blessed.”
When the programme started, those leading it knew what they wanted to achieve but could not have anticipated how well it would go, says Stacey Carroll from Māori Women’s Welfare League. She thanked all the businesses and organisations that had supported them: Box Office, Dress for Success, Shoe Clinic, Bendon, Escape Café Yoga Studio and Happy Nails.
“Our mission is your success,” said Leanne Matuku from Tui Ora. “We wanted to awhi you in your goal setting, your health and wellbeing journey and aspirations. We knew this would be cool, we just didn’t realise how cool it would be.”