As indigenous people of Aotearoa/ New Zealand - Maori have suffered devastating losses through colonization which has had intergenerational impacts upon and the health and wellbeing of our people.
Maori are a resilient people and despite enormous barriers and challenges Maori are thriving in the Not For Profit (NGO) Sector in New Zealand providing high quality tikanga (values) based health and social services - BY MAORI FOR MAORI. The growth of the Maori NGO sector has seen the growth of service provision to - BY MAORI FOR EVERYONE.
The uniqueness of Maori NGO's is the tikanga (values) based approach which is entrenched in every aspect of NGO's governance, management and service delivery to the community.
Some of these key tikanga (values) include:
- Whakapono ki te Atua (belief in a supreme Creator)
- Wairua (spiritual balance and up liftment)
- Aroha (love, unconditional for all)
- Pono (truth and ensuring transparancy)
- Tapu (eternal sacredness of people and the environment)
- Mana (Respect for all people and their uniqueness)
- Hohourongo (restoring the balance of tapu and mana)
These values are essential tennants in a Maori tikanga (values) based service. Aroha (love) has everything to do with it.
Nga Manga Puriri is a Northland, New Zealand based Maori Not for Profit Organisation ("NGO"). The organisation takes its name from the Puriri Tree (Vitex lucens) which is native to New Zealand and is an abundant source of food for native birds and has medicinal purposes to the Maori people, the Puriri Tree is a hard wood and historically was used in building. The name "Nga Manga Puriri" means literally the branches of the Puriri Tree. In an organisational context - Nga Manga Puriri (the organisation) is the central trunk and the Manga are its people, networks and stakeholders.
While Nga Manga Puriri is a Maori NGO, a health and social service provider to the people of Northland; Nga Manga Puriri was established 16 years ago as a unique network of like minded people who Hikoi Te Korero (Walk the Talk) in living and promoting a drug free, alcohol free, smoke free and gamble free lifestyles. This philosophy is based on an abstenance approach to addictions and to be committed "Champions For Change" in their communities.
All Nga Manga Puriri trustees, management and employees all adhere to the tikanga (values) and philosophy of "Walking the Talk".
In New Zealand many NGO's are moving towards a smokefree environment and a smokefree workforce, but to have a completely addictions free Organisation is unheard of!!!
Its not redical to go radical - its logical to go radical (Robert Riney in Bill Taylor 2011)
Nga Manga Puriri is radical, it is challenging and is a leader in the field of addictions, Maori health and wellbeing for challenging the acceptance of drugs and addictions in our every day lives.
Nga Manga Puriri walks the talk regionally, nationally and internationally in promoting an abstinence approach to preventing addictions within indigenous peoples.
In the mid 1990's Maori mental health and addiction practitioners in Northland, New Zealand saw increasing harms from the use of drugs and alcohol and the impacts on mental health and wellbeing and the wider whanau (family) and community. There were systemic challenges which saw practitioners operating in isolation but additional support and collaboration was seen as an opportunity to advance their practice and support increasing standards of care.
An initial Hui (gathering) was called by Kaumatua (elders) Nau Epiha and Titari Eramiha in Hokianga, Northland in the late 1990's. A large number of Northland NGO's and the Public service in the fields of Maori health, mental health and addictions attended the gathering as well as community groups concerned with the effect that addictions was having on the community.
Issues identified from this gathering included:
- Maori cultural supervision
- Lack of regional coordination
- And leadership
Kaumatua (Elders) Titari Eramiha and Nau Eipha called a further hui (gathering) to progress discussions on the mental health and addictions issues of the Maori people at the National Waitangi Treaty Grounds. From this hui (gathering) it was decided that Kaumatua (elders) would take leadership role in mental health and addictions and formed Nga Manga Puriri - Tai Tokerau (Northland) Addictions Network.
Nga Manga Puriri noted that many organisations of the time had challenges in implementing a robust Maori cultural base. Therefore Nga Manga Puriri sought to prioritise cultural foundations and tikanga (values) for the Tai Tokerau (Northland) Addictions Network and later for the Charity (NGO) which was formed. Kaumatua (elders) were pivotal in the network and Nga Manga Puriri built a Taumata Kaumatua (elders board) with membership from across Northland hapu (sub tribes) to lead and guide all aspects of the network and the organisation.
Maori cultural supervision was a gap in mental health and addictions at the time. Maori cultural competence responds to issues of educational disparity which exist for Maori; it strengthens all practitioners capability to work with whanau Maori (Maori families); and builds organisational capacity and capability to deliver culturally responsive services to whanau Maori (Sonja MacFarlane 2010). Kaumatua (elders) are pivotal to implementing Maori cultural supervision (Nelly Rata 2012).
The Taumata Kaumatua (board of elders) of Nga Manga Puriri recognised the epidemic of addictions which plagued Maori people and made the decision to challenge the status quo in the mental health addictions field and dare to be different.
The Taumata Kaumatua (board of elders) recognised the treatment of addictions was a continuum of harm minimization. However the Kaumatua (elders) calling practitioners and whanau Maori (Maori families) to be Champions for Change - to aim high and strive for the ultimate goal of abstinance: Walking The Talk: being drug free, smoke free, alcohol free, gamble free champions in their organisations and communities.
Following the initial Kaumatua (elders) Hui (meeting) in Waitangi Nga Manga Puriri Kaumatua (elders) began to wananga (gatherings with a deep purpose) with other elders in Northland to discuss the issue of addictions within the Maori people, to gather further support and endorsement and to confirm a vision and strategic purpose for the network.
Outcomes included: further confirmation from Kaumatua (elders) and Rangatira (leaders) that regional leadership and coordination was required to bring the Maori mental health and addictions sector together and to engage whanau Maori (Maori families) into the network. It was also highlighted that Maori cultural competence and Maori cultural supervision training was required.
Development of Te Wero Me Te Aranga Worksforce Development Training - kaumatua (elders) and practitioners worked with established leaders in Te Ao Maori (The Maori World) and in Maori mental health and addictions to develop a training package which increased participants understandings of Maori culture, Maori language, Maori relationships (whanaungatanga) and examining the deeper impacts on peoples mental health and wellbeing when there is cultural dislocation and lack of connectedness between families and society. The training was targetted at practitioners and community people with a passion for mental health and addictions. Over the 5 years of delivery over 100 participants completed the year long Marae (Maori meeting house) based training.
Te Wero me Te Aranga Training evolved further into an ongoing training program called The Dynamics of Whanaungatanga which moved from a regional focus to now being delivered at Marae across New Zealand.
Challenge: Mahi tahi (working together) bringing the sector, community and Maori hapu (sub tribe) and iwi (tribe) together to discuss mental health and addictions
Solution: Kaumatua (elder) leadership - Maori culture and people recognise the key role that Kaumatua (elders) play in leadership, cultural safety, bridging gaps and bringing people together. As the esteemed elders of communities Kaumatua are pivotal to Maori success.
Challenge: Organisational barriers and organisational "protection" of turf
Solution: Kaumatua (elders) - Kaumatua from organisations meeting together at a strategic level and uniting organisations beyond "contracts for service" instead being focussed on the kaupapa (issue) of mental health and addictions which plagues our communities
Challenge: Initial network funding
Solution: Take a community development approach and create a movement which is not reliant of Government funding, but on all stakeholders contributing to get the momentum going
Challenge: Champions for Change: Hikoi Te Korero (Walking the Talk) - drug free, alcohol free, smoke free, gamble free lifestyle promotion
Solution: The position of the Nga Manga Puriri - Tai Tokerau (Northland) Addictions Network to promote Hikoi Te Korero as a philosophy was polarizing in the mental health and addictions sector but also with community groups. However, the Kaumatua (elders) set the bench mark, and it was this clear Poupou (literally meaning a post, pillar or to take a position) which set the vision and ultimate goal for the Maori people of Northland and New Zealand to reduce harms from druge and alcohol.
Challenge: Distance to travel to Hui (meetings)
Solution: As Northland is rurally isolated and has a far geographic area for stakeholders to travel for meeting attendance it was decided to move meeting venues around the District and therefore share hosting responsibilities and hospitality between organisations and stakeholders, this also increased membership as more whanau Maori (Maori families) and community
Challenge: Nga Manga Puriri growth and formalisation of an organisational structure
Solution: It came to a natural point in 2002 where Nga Manga Puriri progressed to became a registered "Not for Profit Organization" and registered with the New Zealand Charities Commission
Challenge: Sharing the Hikoi Te Korero (Walking the Talk) message across New Zealand
Solution: The Nga Manga Puriri - Tai Tokerau Addictions Network decided in 2003 to hold a National Kaumatua Hui (elders conference) on mental health, addictions and Maori wellbeing. To share their vision with other Kaumatua (elders) and organisations throughout New Zealand and provide a forum for further discussion on issues which effect Maori people
The most significant benefits in the establishment of the Tai Tokerau Addictions Network and later Nga Manga Puriri as an NGO Provider of Services has been the reconnection with tikanga Maori (Maori customs, practices and values) and traditional Maori leadership with Kaumatua (elders) leading the organisation into the future.
This is a major innovation, when an organisation can call upon up to 20 Kaumatua (elders) with an average age of 70 years old is awesome!
Nga Manga Puriri has had Kaumatua membership on regional and national bodies including: ALAC (Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council of New Zealand) Board, Te Rau Matatini National Kaumatua Working Group which developed the National Kaumatua Competencies in Mental Health & Addictions, Advisory Board to the development of the Takarangi Framework - Maori Cultural Competencies for the mental health and addiction workforce in New Zealand and Te Herenga Waka o Te Oranga Whanau - National Maori Problem Gambling Board.
The founding Kaumatua (elders) have been leaders in Maori addictions and mental health for sometime and they have lead the coordination of the Northland Region to attend the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Gatherings since 1992. Healing Our Spirits Worldwide (HOSW) is an international indigenous movement which seeks to promote mental health and wellbeing through sharing research, stories and learnings, these gatherings are held around the world (1992 Edmonton, Canada; 1994 Australia; 1998 Rotorua, New Zealand; 2002 New Mexico; 2006 Edmonton Canada; 2010 Waikiki Hawaii). Nga Manga Puriri has had membership on the International Indigenous Council (IIC) as Aotearoa Maori Representative. Nga Manga Puriri continues to lead and coordinate Northland Maori organisations and whanau (family) groups to attend HOSW every 4 years.
Nga Manga Puriri has become a leader in Northland in problem gambling, recognised in the field of addictions, Nga Manga Puriri was successful in securing Northland's only problem gambling service with a BY MAORI FOR EVERYONE philosophy - providing free confidential problem gambling counselling, social support and health promotion advice and support to the community. This is an awesome milestone for the network and organisation in extending its services into the field of problem gambling.
Kaumatua (elders) are a unique strength of the network and service and the Kaumatua are recognised ambassadors and leaders in the community as advocates for communities to walk the talk. Kaumatua are the champions of this organisation and the movement has grown through their commitment and leadership.
E wha nga paatu o te Whare Tapu o Ngapuhi - ko Ngati Whatua, Ko Ngati Kahu, Ko Te Aupouri, Ko Te Rarawa. Ko Ngapuhi te tuanui. There are four walls (sub tribes) to the House of Ngapuhi (main tribe of Northland) - Ngati Whatua, Ngati Kahu, Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa. Ngapuhi is the roof of that house.
Nga Manga Puriri learnt that in order to mobilise the Northland Region, Nga Manga Puriri needed to harness the Kaumatua (elders) leadership from all the sub tribes of Ngapuhi.
What does this mean? When seeking to engage a sector of the community or extend your networks into other areas it is important that you connect with the "champions" of this community or those key people who have the ability to lead the community. Nga Manga Puriri through its Kaumatua (elders) moved through the Northland Region meeting with other Kaumatua to gain support and extend its membership and influence into all tribes of Ngapuhi.
Hinga atu he tetekura, ara mai he tetekura. When one falls another rises to take his/ her place.
Nga Manga Puriri knows that working with Kaumatua (elders) is limited due to effects of older age and ill health. Nga Manga Puriri recognised the importance of having a wide network of Kaumatua who could take leadership roles over different portfolios, but also should ill health or death effect its Taumata Kaumatua (Board of Elders) that there is provision for another to take their place.
What does this mean? Succession planning is pivotal to the success of any project or organisation. While recognising the strength of your current leadership/ management or workforce it is important that succession planning is in place to ensure that should a colleague depart the organisation that there is sufficient planning and knowledge to maintain the momentum and delivery of work outputs.
He aha te mea nui o tenei Ao? Maku e kii atu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata. What is the greatest asset of all? I will tell you, it is people, it is people, it is people.
Maori culture recognises that the most important resource we have is in our people. Nga Manga Puriri invests into its network and people to support their own aspirations as development and to demonstrate thanks and recognition of their hard work.
What does this mean? Value your people, show them you value them and make it genuine at all times.
Jefferies, R. 2003. Healing Our Spirits Worldwide. In Pimatisiwin, a Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health Vol 1. No 2. Winter Ed
MacFarlane, S. 2010. Maori Cultural Supervision: A Kaupapa Maori Model to Support Special Education Practice. Presentation to the Professional Supervision:Common Threads, Different Patterns" Conference
Taylor, Bill. 2011. Its Logical to Go Radical. In http://www.managementexchange.com/blog/why-its-logical-go-radical
Special credit - To the current Kaumatua (Elders) of Nga Manga Puriri:
Houpeke and Mere Piripi
Titari Eramiha and Rose Turdich
Winiata Morunga and Molly Walters - Morunga
And all those who gone before them. I pay tribute to your wise counsel, your fierce leadership, your true commitment to the health and wellbeing of your Maori people of Ngapuhi and most of all for being great role models to the young people you influence in your everyday lives.
Love for your people has everything to do with it when fighting to reduce ineqalities and improve health outcomes.
Love has everything to do with it.