Looking back on the Fostering Te Pā Harakeke Research Symposium

NPM25th-26th of November 2013

Hutia te rito o te harakeke, Kei whea te komako e ko?

Ki mai ki ahau – He aha te mea nui o te Ao?

Maku e ki atu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

The fifth annual ‘Fostering te Pā Harakeke’ Research Symposium: Healthy and Prosperous families of Mana was held in Tauranga, New Zealand late last year.  The symposium was hosted by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga alongside Tauranga Moana Iwi (tribes) (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Au Maaro o Ngāti Pukenga, Ngā Potiki).

Presenters from around the country spoke about whānau and contemporary social issues in Aotearoa New Zealand. The event provided an opportunity for people to connect and share with others.

waiata 1I attended as a correspondent and affiliate of the Whanau Ora Research website. My two days were spent in the Trinity Wharf hotel where I had a view of the Tauranga harbour. It was my first time to Tauranga, coming from Auckland the quiet days spent near the water was exactly the environment in which to relax, meet people and listen to the amazing work that some of the top researchers in the country have been conducting around whānau ora (Māori family wellbeing).

The first day began with an opening ceremony by Tauranga Moana. This welcome by the tangata whenua (local peoples) of Tauranga was followed by a speech by Daniel Hikuroa, the Research Director of Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga. He spoke on the importance of the days themes – fostering and maintaining “healthy, prosperous families of mana,” optimising Māori performance, and enhancing Māori distinction.

Other speakers on this first day included Mr Mohi Rua and Associate Professor Leonie Pihama..

mohi Rua 2013 2Mohi Rua, lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Waikato, spoke on a project that he has been a part of which involved working with homeless Māori men working in maara kai (vegetable gardens). The project aimed to have these men gain a grounding in their identity as Māori through them forming a connection with the land and a marae, and helping to feed others (as produce from the gardens goes to the City Mission).

Leonie Pihama. Te Pa Harakeke Research Symposium 2013Leonie Pihama, Director – Te Kotahi Research Institute, and Associate Professor at the University of Waikato, spoke on the necessity of backing up Māori providers with the factual evidence to work well.  Leonie spoke on her research, ‘Tiakina Te Pa Harakeke’, which is looking at Maori childrearing within a whānau ora context.

It’s easy to say he taonga te tamaiti [a child is a treasure]. What we need to know is how to practice that, how to do that…..How do we ensure that the status and the mana within each child is affirmed?

I was overwhelmed by the variety of speakers and the strength of their talks. Whether they were subdued to empassioned in their presentations, all speakers provided food for thought.

In my next post I will talk about my experiences of the evening’s dinner, where the Honorary Tariana Turia spoke on the importance of research and the strength of whānau and Whānau Ora. I will also comment  on the second day’s proceedings.

To watch a few of the days talks, visit the Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga website HERE

Contributed by Aneta Cram

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