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A year in review for Healthy Families Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

Waiora Whānau have progressed a number of initiatives which have provided deeper insight into building the conditions and capabilities of ecosystems to enable whānau based solutions

We don’t for one minute take for granted the honour we have in sharing space with so many people who are willing to really think and act differently to overturn and address the persistent problems we face. We have spent the last 12 months working with whānau and partners to uncover the challenge-opportunities for change. Check out our website for links that the team, whānau, iwi, Māori and community have produced.

Waiora Whānau are neutral, non-competitive and principled. We focus on social innovation, meaning we are curious, comfortable in the grey, learn by doing, fail forward, and know whānau are the experts of their own lives. Our role is not to solve the issues, but to support/facilitate different groups to design alternative or improved solutions from a prevention position.

We dont believe in top down approaches, or doing to – these dont work. Collective whānau-led solutions underpin our mahi. We establish kaupapa villages for whānau and practitioners to share their stories ideas, and aspirations, to make sense of rich kōrero and actionable insights. Real change is grounded in strengths-based, indigenous-led approaches, leveraging the social capital of communities and the innovation of whānau as experts in their own lives. Whānau are at the centre of what could work and should happen when designing and embedding wellbeing approaches.


The mental health & addictions initiative worked with a range of groups to gain insight and direction about this sector. One of the priorities that emerged in the redesign of service delivery is to change the narrative, through all communications and engagement by shifting from a language that focussed on diagnosis to one of wellbeing. Mental wellbeing and mental distress are words that whānau and services preferred, moving the narrative away from negative stigma and bias.

Imagine if all services / sectors reframed the narrative from a disease focus to wellness, then the system and ecosystem begins to shift to a holistic mode of care. Add a Te Ao Maori worldview and we see these spaces where professionals and community can have courageous conversations along the wellbeing spectrum. This was obvious in the Tāne Māori stories of wellbeing, produced in the Growing Collective Wellbeing [Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy]. The stereotypes of harden-up men being addressed head on through story telling are examples of changing the narrative.

In the smokefree initiative we learnt there are three powerful steps that occur for every smoker leading towards their quit date: desire to stop, decision to stop, having a plan to stop. Wānanga with ex-smokers and smokers discovered that the hardest part to becoming a non-smoker is the decision to stop and yet quit services start with whānau when the quit ate is chosen. This undermines the importance of the work required at the start of a smokefree journey. For whānau there is little point in engaging support services if there is not mental and emotional space to think through the decision to quit. The insights and the recommendations from this mahi are with publishers and will be launched early next year watch this space for dates.

In the Hapū Māmā Village initiative we learnt that the greatest consistencies in maternal healthcare is in the inconsistency of experience. This was amplified during COVID. Māmā told us finding a midwife and a midwife that was the right fit for their whānau was hard, causing frustration and increased anxiety. Whānau want to see more villages established in community where peer to peer support, Māori healthcare and mātauranga Māori options are available for Māmā and Pāpā. The insights and recommendations from this mahi will also be launched early next year.

In the last year we have produced the following publications and engaged at a regional or national level in the various movements for change:

  • Led the National Kai Community of Practice, Healthy Families New Zealand to design and develop our National Kai Impact Report. This report provides a snapshot of community led solutions activated across the motu developing alternative ways to address “food poverty”. The call to action is for policy and decision makers, influencers and iwi to join the movement and shift the systemic roadblocks to a healthier and equitable food system.

  • Produced the Compelling Case for Change: A Regenerative Kai System – supported with local examples. This document assists leaders to shift their attention and focus towards a more environmentally sustainable and healthy approach for transforming the local food system, and therefore improving the health and wellbeing of our communities.

  • Produced two sets of insights from SHOTCUZ, a rangatahi-led approach to engaging young people and their whānau in kōrero about COVID and their questions about COVID vaccinations. SHOTCUZ worked alongside Te Waipuna mobile teams.

  • Presented Maramataka in Action in a regional roadshow aligned with the Puanga Matariki period. Shared the insights gathered with almost 8,000 whānau from around the motu using maramataka as a process and framework.

  • Invited as guest speaker in national webinars, podcasts, and forums to share how we prioritise mātauranga Māori as health prevention solutions.


  • Supporting the Growing Collective Wellbeing [Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy].

  • Supporting a whole of region-whole of sector approach to collaboratively redesign mental health and addictions service delivery, inclusive of prevention.

  • Prototyping and testing Te Kākano, a tāne rangatahi wellbeing and employability initiative now partnering with iwi to test scalability and sustainability.

  • Partnering internally with Waiora Hinengaro and Te Oranganui Kaimahi in the design of workplace wellbeing for Te Oranganui.

We want to thank the whānau and kaimahi who have shared their stories, time, and creativity on this journey with us. Also, to the services, iwi, Māori and sector professionals for knowing you are enablers of change.


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