April 07, 2013
Join Whānau Ora fun
Opinion: Tomorrow is a big day for our Urban Māori Authorities. We are having a Whānau Ora celebration at our mārae, Ngā Whare Waatea Mārae in Mangere.
John Tamihere and I have decided it’s time to celebrate an initiative that is positively changing lives.
We're sick of Winston Peters rubbishing something that we know has positive effects in terms of our whanau today.
My organisation, the Manukau Urban Māori Authority, and JT's organisation, the Waipareira Trust, look after more than 1200 families. Whānau Ora has given us the opportunity to sit alongside families who have lost direction, become welfare dependant and are just not operating properly as a whānau.
We put what is called a ''navigator'' with the family who is really a ''manager'', who helps the family if there is abuse within the whānau, budgeting problems, i.e, the rent not being paid, the kids not being fed and basically gets the family heading back in the right direction.
We were not able to do this under the previous Labour government.
JT and myself were both MPs in the Helen Clark era and when JT talked about community empowerment and or organisations like ours taking control and managing Māori families he was shut down.
We were told that families had all these rights, we shouldn't interfere and if whole families ended up on the benefit, then that's just how it was.
Of course we had huge debates with our colleagues at the time and while we understood that they were just trying to give families the appropriate respect and privacy they deserved as New Zealand citizens, we felt they were out of touch with reality.
The facts were and still are that too many of our babies are being abused and killed.
We have a high number of Māori on benefits.
In some cases we have whole families who have intergenerational unemployment. So we felt we needed something radically different and Whānau Ora has been that.
It's underfunded but we have heaps of success stories.
My own organisation has the most successful teenage mothers programme in the country.
We give teenage mums another opportunity, we find them work, we get them an education.
We have turned around many Māori families who were on a one-way trip to hell, gang fathers who were abusing their kids and wives who are now operating like real fathers.
Tomorrow gives us an opportunity to celebrate our success.
We are putting on a big concert for families and top acts are supporting our kaupapa like Che Fu, Moana, Young Sid, Pieter T and international act Spawnbrezzie.
Whānau Ora Minister Tariana Turia will also be giving a special presentation.
So be there and hear the Whanau Ora story, 10am, Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, Calthorp Close, Mangere.
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