Ngā hīkoi a Ngātoroirangi: Te Mana Taiao / Growing the Puna 2022/23

This year our Growing the Puna internship programme took a slightly different direction. Renei Ngawati shares what it looked like.

Since the establishment of Growing the Puna, the focus has been on research projects and diving into kaupapa to strengthen our learning around kai oranga and kori tīnana.  In past years we have had the support of the Heart Foundation NZ, Massey University, and the University of Auckland to fund internships for these small research projects. This work has contributed to deepening not only the puna mātauranga within our organisation, but for our interns. 

This year, Kaiārahi Crystal Pekepo-Ratu, took a slightly different approach, focusing on getting out into the taiao. Taking in kōrero, connecting with those who connect to tūpuna whakapapa through whēnua, and retracing tūpuna stories, all while building the skill base and confidence of kaimahi was something we really wanted to do. 

Toi Tangata has always been committed to Atua Matua with Ihirangi Heke, ensuring our interns have an experience outdoors running, swimming, and riding long distances while learning about the kaitiaki and pūrākau of the area. This year we were supported by Recreation Aotearoa to explore a workforce development approach through our Growing the Puna programme. Partnering with Te Papa Tākaro o Te Arawa, our Growing the Puna team participated in a two day wānanga based in Tarawera. The aim was to learn and retrace some of the steps that Ariki Ngātoroirangi walked during his time, while completing some pretty physically challenging activities. This was a great opportunity to connect and share the experience with the team from Te Papa Tākaro o Te Arawa. He mihi nui ki a rātou!

Included in this edition of the Toi Tangata pānui, two of the interns, Paris and Jewell, recall their experience. The kōrero we shared after this wānanga really did connect to the overall aim – to get as close to the Atua Māori as possible. That is where the wānanga begins. 

As part of Growing the Puna, the Heart Foundation NZ supported Toi Tangata to capture the insights of past Growing the Puna interns, their experiences with taiao focused learning, and how that is encompassed into their everyday lives. We were privileged to have Uenuku Winitana film our time with Te Papa Tākaro o Te Arawa, and interview Peter Cowan and Chelsea Cunningham. 

Looking back at our internships over the years, the Toi Tangata whanau has  been able to be a part of mahi that goes beyond our core business of mātauranga informed physical activity and nutrition, rather, we are able to step out of the office and ‘whakatinana’ what we love to do. Being Māori is to be active. He Māori ō tātou nei mahi, tō tātou nei ao. 

A big kihi and awhi to Crystal, who has moved on from Toi Tangata, for her mahi in creating a beautiful Growing the Puna experience this year. 

Mauri ora ki a tātou.

Nā Renei Ngawati

Renei Ngawati

Renei comes from a health promotion and Māori development background as a former lecturer in Māori Health at AUT University. He uri ia no Ngāti Hine me Ngāti Porou.