In July, Minister for Whānau Ora Tariana Turia announced the establishment of three Whānau Ora commissioning agencies. In response to the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by Te Puni Kōkiri, we are working collaboratively with the Te Tau Ihu iwi on this kaupapa.

The name of the partnership and proposal we submitted is Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. This speaks to the convergence of the rivers of Te Waipounamu, bringing sustenance to the people and it reflects our founding value of whanaungatanga. It also acknowledges the significant whenua and whakapapa connections that bind us together in a shared future. The collaboration shows that whakawhanaungatanga, kotahitanga and whānau self-determination are the foundations of strong and sustainable communities. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu will be an independent iwi-led entity. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu will cater for all peoples in Te Waipounamu, not just the descendants of the nine iwi.

From a Ngāi Tahu perspective, the proposal provides the opportunity to create a positive environment to support whānau to achieve their aspirations in health, housing, education and employment. The philosophy of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu compliments and aligns to our tribal economies strategy and the existing housing and trade training initiatives, which are about empowering our people to create their own pathways and set achievable goals.

It will enable the broadening of the nature and range of services provided, encouraging collaboration and amalgamation among some providers. With the move to establish three commissioning agencies, there is an even greater focus on a holistic approach to oranga whānau and building capability within families to self-manage and lead their own destinies. I look forward to the December decision on our proposal. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work that was put into compiling the submission and most importantly, the collaboration of Te Waipounamu iwi.

On another note, we recently celebrated the progress of the Whakaora Te Waihora joint restoration programme, which has planted over 100,000 native plants at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. Whakaora Te Waihora is a joint programme between Ngāi Tahu, the Ministry for the Environment and Environment Canterbury and is New Zealand’s largest collaborative freshwater clean-up effort. Over 60 guests attended a commemorative planting ceremony at the lake. It was a beautiful day and an appropriate way to reflect on the successes so far and the importance of our shared commitment to restore the cultural and ecological values of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

Ngā mihi,