The Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare toured Tui Ora in New Plymouth on Tuesday as well as spending time in South Taranaki on Wednesday.
Tui Ora chief executive Hayden Wano described the visit as very positive on many levels. Tuesday’s gathering included presentations by Youth Services and Whānau Ora staff and on Wednesday he met representatives from Ngāti Ruanui and Ngaruahine at Hawera Hospital, as well as Hayden and executive kaumātua Sonny Murray.
Minister Henare understood the role that Tui Ora is playing in the region and its 20-year history, and noted the flexibility of the workforce who has to work around inflexibilities in different systems to accommodate whānau, says Hayden.
He acknowledged the role that data is playing in explaining the whānau journey more accurately, and understood that in Taranaki the post-iwi settlement phase will offer opportunities for collaboration with organisations like Tui Ora.
The Hawera visit included a presentation about Te Kawau Mārō and the collaboration in health services between Tui Ora, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngaruahine.
“He liked the term tight -loose-tight to describe some of the work we are doing around outcomes and performance measures. We are tight in terms of defining outcomes and performance measures, loose in the way we configure our service to suit local community needs, but tight again when it comes to measuring outcomes and performance,” says Hayden.
Mentoa, a service for male Māori youth also presented to the Minister. Mentoa, in partnership with Ngaruahine and Tui Ora recently established Te Whare Oranga (TWO). TWO recently tendered, successfully, for the Youth Justice Remand Care Home which is due to be up and running later this year.
YS team leader Terri Wood chatted to the Minister on his walkabout of the Maratahu St site and says they talked through community based education in the region as well as the impact the shortage of rental accommodation has on young people the service supports.
Georgia Kenyon, Markham Grey and Carmen O’Carroll representing the whānau ora team, talked about the strength of the approach as well as about the way it works in the Whānau Hāpai service where Carmen supports families with young children.
Georgia says the minister talked about the significance of the whānau ora approach, affirmed by the national review completed in February 2019. However, he acknowledged work needs to be done by other government agencies in working in the same holistic, whole family way and there needs to be greater engagement with WO providers.
The team also pointed out the need to ensure their efforts are not isolated. For example, Te Ihu Waka taking place this week is a marae-based, week-long programme which sees Tui Ora staff working to rehabilitate offenders referred by the Corrections Department. However, to further support offenders, Tui Ora staff need the ability and funding to continue their work in communities after the programme has finished.
Georgia said it was heartening to hear first-hand from the minister and to have him acknowledge the work that Tui Ora staff are doing and that the organisation has reached a point of maturity and is on the right track.
*Peeni Henare is the Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Whānau Ora, and Minister for Youth, as well as Associate Minister for Social Development. Prior to politics he worked as a businessman, broadcaster and teacher.
He grew up in Taranaki and attended a local kohanga reo. His father was Erima Henare, who was head of the Māori Language Commission; his grandfather was Sir James Henare, a lieutenant colonel in the Māori Battalion, member of Te Rūnanga o te Tiriti o Waitangi, and Commander of the British Empire (CBE).