The Iwi Raukawa te au ki te Tonga now have their services delivered from their limited liability company, Raukawa Whānau Ora. The organisation is based in Levin and provides services from Otaki to the north of Feilding. They also offer services in Palmerston North.

Raukawa Whānau Ora has an extensive Hau Ora Health service which works alongside Toiora Whānau/He Hikinga Manawa, the social service sector. Together they deliver services to well over 1500-2000 families each year. Toiora Whānau/He Hikinga Manawa empowers whānau through child-based whānau support services and education programmes.

The organisation kakano or seed started within a vision of the kuia and kaumatua in 1975. Initially their focus was on language revitalisation and community services. A name change to Raukawa Whānau Ora in 2015 signalled increased investment in working with whānau.

George Davis is the Manager of Toiora Whānau/He Hikinga Manawa. He talked to us about the organisation’s kaupapa and the education programmes they offer.

Te ao Māori

“We are guided by our kaupapa tuku iho. These are the foundations and principals our organisation which are imbedded, throughout the mission, vision, policy, procedures and practice. There are ten of them.

“Our funding comes from a number of Ministries – Health, Education, MSD and Justice. We are not able to source Whānau Ora funding directly, because further discussion is needed about who the Whānau Ora provider is in the Horowhenua. The commissioning agency allows for only one.

“Ideally we would like all our contracts to be part of one big pool because the basis of our practice is holistic, embedded in te ao Māori, founded in Kaupapa tuku iho. However, that is not the way the system works, and we are still stuck in silos, where individual Ministries are still struggling with the concept. The other problem with the funding system is that it is so time-bound. Whanaungatanga or building relationships, one of the kaupapa takes time, but we are always bound by short term outcomes. We are juggling, managing and proactively advocating with this environment every day.

“When we became Raukawa Whānau Ora we made some big changes to make us into a more transformational organisation. Everything is being done in consultation with iwi, hapu and whānau. We now have a new Manakura or leader, Dr Betty Lou Iwikau at the helm and she is changing the shape of Raukawa Whānau Ora. The vision is that we will eventually have a one-stop-shop where all services are in the same building, from mirimiri practitioners to doctors, mentors and volunteers.

“So, education is not sitting on its own. Our Manakura is all about education. She is right into identifying the opportunities for our families in terms of education pathways. She also wants education pathways for our workers. If you have a degree she wants you to do a masters. If you have a masters she wants you to do a doctorate. She sees education as the pathway for our people to get out of the not so good areas that they are in. Education runs through everything that we do. She is a positive advocate in this space and really pushes this thinking.

The programmes

“Toiora whānau/He Hikinga Manawa provides home based whānau support, social workers in schools, appropriate care placements of tamariki and mokopuna, information and advice, counselling, advocacy with other departments, drug awareness and education awareness programmes.

“The education programmes are: Whakapakari Whānau (Positive Parenting); Home Management; Whānau Development; Rangatahi Programmes; Tane/Wahine Atawhai Programmes; and Abuse – sexual, physical and psychological.

“All the education programmes focus on empowering whānau and whānau wellbeing.

“Our positive parenting programme works to change the mind-sets of parents. We aim to create a paradigm shift in people’s thinking, helping them the use strength-based words, to look for the light within the darkness. We work one-to-one on this programme. If we are aware of a need, someone goes out and works with that family, always keeping in touch once the intensive work is finished.

“Our home management programme, which includes financial literacy, advocacy and support, works in the same way.

“We work for whānau development in the wider context – the extended whānau and building goals for the future, including health, housing, and education.

“Some of our whānau have literacy issues, and so we refer them to Arohamai Literacy Horowhenua. We also refer people to Supergrans and other community services. I manage Birthright Levin, which is for single parents. They lease a space in our office. It is a good positive relationship where we are helping each other out in terms of the services. Sadly many people can get pushed around from service to service, not meeting specific criteria. By working together with local organisations we can help these people get the services they need.

“Our rangatahi programme is school-based. We work with the two colleges in Levin, identifying rangatahi who are struggling with level 2 credits prior to leaving in year 11. We say to them: This is your future. You tell us where you want to be and we will help you get there! And we go in and work with them on the subjects where they need support. They have a mentor who helps them develop a WEAP (Whānau Education Action Plan). It is almost like an IEP or Individual Education Plan the schools do, but it is more driven from the family perspective, so whānau can see how they can support their young people. When the young people leave school they have a plan in place. We have made sure that they have the subjects that they need to get into their chosen course of study at university, the wānanga, or a PTE, or into employment if this is possible.

“This work is not just about getting our rangatahi up to speed with their subjects, it is also about addressing some of the negative impacts of their schooling. Too often teachers use a deficit model in their relationships with rangatahi. Some teachers are not aware of what they are saying and how derogatory comments can affect young people. We feel that it is our obligation to change this.

“The tane and wahine programmes are generally focused on family violence. We have a 12 week programme for wahine, run for 4-5 hours every Thursday during the day. We are building up the resilience of our women. Once women go through the first course they want to come back and contribute so we are offering a part 2 course which is helping them think about the future – jobs, education, and career paths. Often getting a driver licence is a first step – so they can keep appointments, and we help them with that.

“The tane course uses more of a one-to-one approach to begin with. To start with every man has a facilitator who spends up to 25 hours with him. We have introduced this because a lot of our men came back to us and said, ‘well I have done the programme but I still have my own stuff’. So we work with them individually so they can address their own history and work through how they got to be that angry. One man who came to us when he was 58 had never had the opportunity to talk about his own stuff. He cried a lot, and said how good it was to get his own experience of family violence off his chest… He brought his brother along. He wanted him to have the opportunity too. Now word of mouth has got around and people just walk through our door saying – can you pick me up? We are not paid for this work, but we make it happen. It’s an obligation we have for our iwi and the community.

“We know that our programmes are making a difference, we are on the way to positivity. We regularly evaluate the services with our whānau and we get great feedback. We are just overhauling our surveys at the moment and next month we will have a whānau consortium, a reference group whānau, who will be able to tell us what needs to be changed – the issues that they are facing that we are not aware of.”

In this holistic model, everything is on the table. As their website says, the Raukawa Whānau Ora journey aims to reinstate rangatiratanga and move whānau to a position where they are living healthier, happier and culturally rewarding lives.