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Graduation validates whānau studies

Graduation validates whānau studies

Last Updated: September 2018

When Carmen and Markham (pictured above) do their work well you don’t notice them.

Whānau come to the front, Markham and Carmen – and others working in the Whānau Ora team at Tui Ora – fade to the background.

That’s the aim - to empower individuals and families to find strengthens and solutions to build their health and wellbeing.

Carmen and Markham know their mahi is valuable and it has been further reinforced this year by the completion of a two-year Whanau Ora diploma through Wai Tech the tertiary training provider arm of Te Pou Matakana.

The Tui Ora employees were among 45 graduates who received their level 5 NZQA diploma in Whānau Ora. Two years of in-work study including noho marae, distance learning as well as workplace tutoring, culminated in the graduation in July 2018.

Among the forums for their distance learning was a Facebook group that helped them discuss issues and see how other kaiāwhina or kaiārahi work through situations as well as engage with tutors.

The pair agree that the study has validated their work in different ways.

“Now it’s given us a tohu around what we are doing. It confirms our work and helps us to see that others around the country are doing similar things but in their own ways. We are all in it for the same reason,” says Carmen.

It hasn’t so much changed the way she works, rather it’s given her more knowledge. Part of the learning included social work papers, information on laws relevant to their work, aspects of NZ and Māori history and an examination of their own beliefs.

“It caused me to reflect back on my upbringing and family,” says Markham. 

“We discussed the core root of who we are and who we want to be. For me, that’s about helping people.”

In his work, Markham says he is constantly reminded that nothing can be resolved unless good relationships are established.

As someone who works a lot with young people and whānau, a strong relationship means he can pick away at achievable tasks: helping a young person get to school on time, ensuring they have the right uniform, access to a teacher who understands the bigger picture.

“It’s hard for some kids to ask for stuff. We are trying to maintain self-esteem. The way that is done is by being seamless, working behind the scenes, with a school or another agency.”

The world is increasingly complex, he says. Whānau deal with issues around extended families, drug and other addiction issues.

However, completing the course means he and Carmen now have links with organisations around the country doing similar work.

“It opens up the rest of Aotearoa really. We are talking about not working in silos and this has opened up that possibility for us.”

Markham while initially reluctant to undertake the extra study, was encouraged by former team leader Julie Armstrong – he pays credit to her. “It was a very, very good journey over two years and I didn’t think I would have said that at the start.”

For Carmen, who juggled work and whānau commitments over the time, it was heartening to finally finish. “I think a lot of whānau don’t feel that they have a voice because they are not educated to ask questions. We are empowering to say, ‘you can ask’. We are there alongside you, but you can ask.’”

*Peter Hokopaura, a kaihāpai who works with Carmen in the Whānau Hāpai service and is employed by Ngāti Ruanui Healthcare in Hawera, is also working through the Whanau Ora diploma but doing his training through Tipu Ora, a private training establishment (PTE) in Rotorua.

See the Te Pou Matakana graduation here

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