Supporting and growing Māori leadership and participation in sport, active recreation and play
In the heart of Ngāti Awa, nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of Ohope, 26 He Oranga Poutama Kaiwhakahaere gathered for a three-day national hui in Whakatāne from 29-31 May 2023.
He Oranga Poutama has been the longest-standing Kaupapa Māori initiative at Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa with an investment history spanning 30 years growing and supporting Māori participation and leadership in sport, active recreation, by Māori, for Māori, as Māori.
The decision to hold the hui at Ohope Marae was a significant one, inspired by the call of Mataatua Sports Trust Board Member Chris Majoribanks, a long-time advocate and champion of He Oranga Poutama.
Long-time He Oranga Poutama champion and advocate, Mataatua Sports Trust Board Member Chris Majoribanks (Te Whanau-ā-Apanui). Photo credit: Irena Ekens
Aktive Kaiwhakahaere Karla Matua expressed the unique and enriching experience of holding the hui at Ohope Marae. She highlighted the importance of connecting with the taiao (the natural environment) and the marae setting providing a cultural context and a sense of belonging that enhanced the overall atmosphere and engagement of the Kaiwhakahaere.
“I think just being at the Marae. Being able to hear Tangaroa and being able to hear our manu.
“I mean it’s quite easy to sit inside a conference room at a hotel. It always brings a different dynamic when you hold hui at the Marae,” said Karla.
She also mentioned that the hui had a natural flow, allowing for organic discussions and providing a space to explore new ideas and approaches, fostering a sense of openness and collaboration.
Wiremu Mato, Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa Kaiwhatu Mana Ōrite, emphasised the importance of having Māori voices and faces represented in the sport and recreation sector through He Oranga Poutama. He highlighted the significant efforts made within the programme to ensure Māori perspectives are heard and Māori communities are actively involved.
“I think there’s a real need to use He Oranga Poutama as an exemplar for other programmes coming through because we have so much history,” said Wiremu.
He emphasised the value of the programme’s extensive wealth of knowledge and experience it has accumulated over the last 30 years.
“By using He Oranga Poutama as a model, other initiatives can learn from its successes and build upon the existing foundation to better serve Māori communities,” said Wiremu.
Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa He Oranga Poutama Lead Trina Henare (Ngāti Hine). Photo credit: Irena Ekens
As the hui progressed, the Kaiwhakahaere engaged in robust discussions, sharing their experiences, challenges, and triumphs. They explored and shared innovative approaches to empower rangatahi and tamariki in their respective rohe (regions).
Throughout the hui, the guiding principle of “Kia poipoia te kākano, kia puāwai” echoed in every conversation. It encapsulated the essence of nurturing the seed of cultural identity and allowing it to flourish. The participants recognised the importance of creating spaces where knowledge and matauranga Māori were made accessible, enabling Māori to connect with their heritage through physical activity.
Michelle Hayward, the General Manager Partnerships for Nuku Ora, highlighted the profound impact that embracing Māori culture could have on tamariki and rangatahi.
“The more opportunities tamariki and rangatahi have to be around their culture, whether that comes through their sport, active rec or education, this will increase the pride that they have in knowing who they are and where they come from,” said Michelle.
Trina Henare, Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa He Oranga Poutama Lead affirmed that the true legacy of He Oranga Poutama would be when Māori rangatahi took the lead, shaping the programme’s direction and driving its impact.
“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to engage our rangatahi and tamariki in terms of being decision makers in our space. We just need to get out of the way,” said Trina.
“I see myself as a facilitator, supporting and uplifting the efforts of Kaiwhakahaere. The future looks bright for our people.”
As the sun set on Ohope Marae, the participants left with their puku full and their hearts filled with renewed purpose and commitment to the kaupapa of He Oranga Poutama. They recognised that the programme belongs to everyone and that it was their collective responsibility to enhance and uplift it for future generations.