Celebrating a Te Arawa Whānau Ora in Education

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, teachers, students, and most of all Graduands of the Whānau Ora Class of 2018. My name is Kim Richards and I am a descendant of Te Arawa and Ngāti Awa. It is both a privilege and honour to have been chosen as one of the valedictorians on this special occasion.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge Te Pou Matakana, for funding a recognised NZQA qualification for Whānau Ora Kaimahi located within the thirteen lead partner organisations Secondly, we are here today proud graduands of 2018 because of the combined support and positive reinforcement from our respective organisations and Wai Tech tutors.

The past 2 years has been an amazing journey, full of ngā piki me ngā heke, lots of light bulb moments, learning, sharing and meeting the most amazing people along the way.

As many of us can attest to, the return to study was an intimidating and frightening thought. The big question was whether many of us could juggle study whilst working full-time?

Fears were allayed because the programme was fit for purpose with self-directed learning within our work places and we had many opportunities to engage with the wider Whānau Ora Diploma cohort around the North Island. This included noho marae, professional engagement through a private Facebook page, profiling fellow tauira, live feed tutorials from our Kaiako, weekly emails, texting, phone calls and so much more……..
One of the most favourable talking points at the end of the 2 years, was our Noho marae. The intensity and required commitment throughout our 4-days together we experienced a stunning line-up of guest speakers, we immersed ourselves in karakia, waiata, pepeha, group participation and we ate and even snored a pretty tune together.

We were able to share and learn from one another in a safe environment. We so wished that we had had this opportunity at the beginning and it’s great to note that Wai Tech has implemented a noho marae at the start of the 2020 Diploma class.
Learning that supported successful engagement and completion of our Te Arawa roopū journey, were our monthly workshops. We built life-long friendships and received a multitude of benefits, such as improved communication skills, increased motivation, shared knowledge, networking and learning about each other’s organisations within whanau atmosphere.

My journey on the Diploma in Whanau Ora has emphasized the importance of having Māori representation, as a way to enhance the wellbeing and decision making (voice) that embraces a culturally sensitive approach to Whanau Ora outcomes. This is the passion and perseverance that drives me to continually support whanau to make positive change.

My basket of knowledge has been filled and equipped and this has led to a new role as the Family Harm Team Leader for my organisation and as the representative for the Te Arawa Whanau Ora Collective on the Family Harm collective impact group. A daily commitment providing Whānau Ora wraparound solutions alongside representatives from Oranga Tamariki, Ministry of Education, District Health Board, Police, MSD, and the Waiāriki Women’s Refuge.

Our collective journey to completion of the Diploma in Whānau Ora has been layered with an ambition to do our personal best, to persist, and to preserve. And, today marks the fruition of many hours of hard work.

He Whakatauākī

Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro, nōna te ngahere.
Engari, ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga, nōna te ao.
The one who partakes of the flora and fauna, that will be their domain.
But for the one who engages in education, opportunities are boundless.

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