Toi Te Hauora Māori, Toi Tangata e!

It has now been over a year since Toi Tangata held its annual key event, Hui ā Tau. It seems like only yesterday, Māori health stakeholders were treated to wānanga in Napier, biking to the nearby star campus, taiaha and AKA workshops on the marae ātea. A platform to discuss in depth aspects that uplift or challenge the state of Māori health and wellbeing. 

Yet February 2020 was the month where the first case of COVID19 arrived on our shores, and a year later, life, as we know it, has transformed to a life of minimising risks. Scaling up and down COVID19 alert levels, checking in, checking out, hand sanitising and wearing face masks on public transport have become normality.

The recent Auckland Level 3 lockdown saw the cancellation of our very own Toi Ako events, which were scheduled for February 2021. It was hoped that we could wānanga with you all again. Yet, there’s nothing we can do but hope to share Kaupapa Māori relating to nutrition and physical activity with you all when the time is better suited, in safer circumstances.

Nationally though, Māori continue to play significant roles when it comes to the management of COVID19. Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua continues to work with police at the Northern Border when alert levels switch. While there is the odd headline with the Tai Tokerau border control team in the north, at the end of the day, these are all collective Māori efforts to ensure the safety of their respective communities. 

A key star we’d like to mention this quarter is Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi, who have been able to employ former unemployed people and train them for their Healthline COVID19 call center. It is an initiative that is being spread out among Māori health and community providers across Northland.  

Another key initiative that Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi has implemented is employ local kaumātua and people to create and maintain community gardens, utilising Ngāpuhi maramataka knowledge. The kai is then donated to kaumatua and kuia and families in need. They are also working with whānau in the nearby Waimā settlement, storing seeds as part of a seed bank initiative.

On a grand scale, this could be part of  a solution for the growing number of whānau in need, especially those in the cities or who have recently been relocated to the regions, struggling to get by. With more planning, we could perhaps in the future see more Iwi, hapū and whānau led gardens turning into commercial entities, if the support is there for those in the initial start up phase.

A topical issue at this stage is vaccination against COVID19. Information about the vaccinations are being distributed out to DHBs and health providers. We understand that there are a number of vaccination national plans underway including a Whānau Ora plan and a National Māori Health plan.  Managed Isolation, border workers and their close contacts have been the government’s top priority. 

One thing that will be key for Māori health leaders and stakeholders to discuss with their people and respective communities is COVID19 vaccination. How and what that might look like in a mana enhancing way for whānau, especially when we think about whānau self determination or tino rangatiratanga to their very own tinana and whakapapa. 

As the saying goes – It’s all about protecting our whakapapa!

Toitū te toi ora o te tangata, toitū te wānanga e!