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"Engaging in this type of practice is like working at the top of the cliff, and not at the bottom picking up the pieces"

Over the past two months our wahine toa here at Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu were given the opportunity to share their work in a 3 part series on Te Whāriki o te Ara Oranga, a network for leaders, innovators, and influencers in mental health and addiction services. Te Whariki brings people together to share mātauranga (knowledge) and enables collaboration and conversations to exchange great work and ideas.

The network aims to share examples of knowledge and action that support people to live well in Aotearoa. Its remit is to share these examples so members can build on them, innovate, and transform services, expanding awareness of what works and how success can be passed to other communities. Achieving equitable health outcomes for Māori is integral to the network.

Whāriki provides a way to come together and weave better solutions collaboratively than could be achieved alone. It is a shared, safe space to wānanga (listen and contemplate), with the purpose of improving mental health and addiction services for tāngata whai ora, whānau, and all communities. Whāriki is funded by the Ministry of Health Manatū Hauora, with input from the Health Quality & Safety Commission of New Zealand Kupu Taurangi Hauora o Aotearoa. It is supported by a small team based out of Te Pou, including two ringa kohikohi (knowledge brokers).

Whanaungatanga: Paving Pathways of Opportunity with Te Whāriki

Our inspirational women had much to share about their involvement in this community and the platform it provided to enhance their work across various initiatives.

“There were a whole range of people from varying parts of the sector, of health, there were people from Te Puni Kokiri so that type of platform allows us to share even more widely that’s the opportunity and then it creates further engagement with people that potentially we may not have thought that we would end up engaging with or perhaps we would have hoped we would have engaged with” - (Kylee Osborne, Lead Systems Innovator Child Health and Wellbeing)

"Innovation is innately indigenous. Maramataka, rooted in indigenous epistemology, means that the language used is te reo, originally dissemination through kōrero tuku iho, which is the code breaking tool necessary to understand the depth of knowledge that sits within the phase. It's both tacit and codified knowledge, and are normally composed in kōrero tuku iho as a suite of dynamic techniques for investigating natural phenomena, and updating, integrating, and adapting it". - (Meretini Huxtable-Bennett, Rautaki Māori & Maramataka Practitioner)

“It has been an amazing opportunity to come together with our Whāriki whānau and utilise their platform to share some of the amazing mahi our whānau and kaimahi are doing across our rohe. Innovation and systems change provides a platform for services to make meaningful change in a way that is different to how we have historically tried to make change. It allows whānau and kaimahi voices to be amplified and for the current system to be challenged by those working on the ground rather than the top down approach. We have had the privilege to connect with people from all walks through this speaking series and have formed relationships where we can collectively use innovation to harness transformational change”. - (Cheyenne Potaka-Osborne, Lead Systems Innovator Growing Collective Wellbeing Suicide Prevention Strategy and MH&AOD Collaborative Redesign)

"There are conditions and competencies required to nudge, or build a movement for change. For example, timing, strategic leadership, collaboration, and the mindsets of social innovation. Our rohe has been able to build the Growing Collective Wellbeing movement because everything aligned at the perfect time. It is the perfect innovation storm!” - (Rīpeka Davis,  Kaihautū Waiora Whānau & Impact Strategist)

The presentations shared across Te Whariki in part one highlighted the importance of systems change in creating conditions for change, movement building, and achieving collective impact; in part two ‘Indigenous Social Innovation and Systems Change Series: Embracing Te Ao Māori for Prevention and Impact’ and in part three, ‘Transforming Complex Systems – Amplifying Lived Experience’. Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu, as part of Healthy Families NZ, focuses on community-led innovation and system-wide prevention solutions, with a specific emphasis on equity, improving Māori health, and reducing inequities for at-risk groups.

Feedback from attendees at the sessions was extremely positive, particularly regarding the insights shared about creating the conditions for change and the frameworks and methods used by the team. One attendee commented, “I really liked the 6 principles of change and hearing the journey,” while another noted the importance of not overlooking “the third prong in a strategy: the bridge between changing existing systems and the future state.” The power of community voices and the experiences of those who have used services were also highlighted, with one participant expressing appreciation for the revelation that "frameworks for meaningful change exist!” Another remarked on the wealth of knowledge, skill, and expertise within the extended whānau community across the motu. Additional feedback included insights such as, “although not our problems, the answers to many contemporary issues lie in kōrero tuku iho and mātauranga,” and “Engaging in this type of practice is like working at the top of the cliff, and not at the bottom picking up the pieces.” Participants also noted the value of “having systems that are shifting the focus away from risk-averse practice, to a more holistic kaupapa and enhancing collective wellbeing for our whaiora, whānau & rohe.”

Following these sessions the team of Te Whāriki and kaimahi from different organisations connected kanohi ki te kanohi in Whanganui where the team were able to foster a stronger sense of whanaungatanga through sharing insights, stories and experiences over kai. The team expressed feelings of excitement and inspiration at the opportunity to also conduct walkthroughs, and connect on a deeper level.

The collaboration between Healthy Families WRR and Te Whāriki exemplifies the power of partnerships in driving meaningful change, creating a more equitable and inclusive future for all.

See link to view sessions, see images of the promo below


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