Chris Taingahue technically isn't old enough to be considered kaumatua, but Tui Ora has welcomed him all the same as its brand new Mātanga.
What is a Mātanga? In Te Reo it simply means a sophisticated, experienced, or skilled person. He'll be working alongside our kaimahi in Oranga Hinengaro, supporting our whānau whaiora , opening doors and establishing relationsips to strengthen links between services, hapu, iwi and our Māori community. The goal is to be able to lead discussion on the significance of cultural relevance to clinical conditions.
So what brought Chris here?
"My playground is usually the coast", "I really like being involved with anything and everything that happens out on the coast or on the marae. I was attending a tangi out there, and there were a few kaimahi in attendance, I got chatting and our deputy chief executive Keri Opai mentioned there was a vacancy for a kaumatua".
"I basically asked him what I'd have to do, and he said it would mainly be the same thing as I was doing at the pa. It sounded like a great opportunity so I jumped on board."
Chris admits it's been a bit of a learning curve over the last couple of weeks that he has been here, but he loves the kaupapa of looking after and uplifiting people, a key part of his mahi so far.
"I'm working right next door with our mental health kaimahi, and it was clear to me quite early on that everyone is quite busy! I've been heading into the community to see clients with our nurses to provide cultural support to our whaiora we are working with in the mental health space."
"The kaimahi I've been working with sit in a different realm to me, but I've been given lots of time and space to upskill, so I can do what I naturally do."
Chris speaks of his connections to Ngā Māhanga a Tairi hapu, at Puniho, as well as Ngāti Maniapoto, and Ngati Porou.
"My mum is of Irish-Maori descent," he adds "Although I don't know much about my mum's Irish heritage, what I do know is that I value it just as much as my Māori side."
Being brand new, Chris isn't exactly sure what a 'typical day' looks like for him just yet, but has been keeping himelf busy with training modules and getting acquanited with out teams and kaimahi.
"It's definitely been a bit of an information overload! Our kaiimahi are awesome, they're clever at doing stuff I don't know, and working alongside the nursing staff so far has been really great. I'm more of a lead by example type of person, so I really like the vibe here. Keri said to just let things come naturally once I start here, so that's what I've been doing, not rushing things."
Outside of mahi, Chris' place is the beach or river.
"Gathering kai, hanging out with friends and whānau, that's what it's all about for me".
Waimarie pai chris, e mohio ana matou kua riro i a koe tenei!