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Celebrating cultural engagement and empowering disability support

Health equity
18 April 2024

On Friday 12 April, representatives from health sector organisations gathered in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington for a workshop with CCS Disability Action. This in-person hui aimed to explore te ao Māori practices to better engage tāngata whaikaha Māori (disabled Māori), their whānau and disability communities across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Attendees had the opportunity to participate by sharing their knowledge and experiences of culturally responsive engagement strategies. Throughout the day, participants learned how to apply the principles of pōwhiri (a traditional practice of engagement) in their everyday interactions with tāngata whaikaha Māori and their whānau. One participant said, ‘The training was well done, and it was helpful to use pōwhiri when working with whānau hauā Māori.’ (Hauā is used in this context to emphasise the uniqueness of every person and is based on the legend of Tāwhiri-mātea and his children. See below for more.)

The community development initiative ‘Karanga Maha | Many Voices’ and its profound impact on the lives of tāngata whaikaha was central to the discussion. Attendees heard, through the lived-experience voice, the positive outcomes from Karanga Maha | Many Voices and its overall impact on the lives of individuals, whānau and communities.

The team from CCS Disability Action also introduced a new model for working with tāngata whaikaha Māori, which turns the current model on its head, ensuring you get to know the person first before working alongside them to facilitate the achievement of their aspirations.

Throughout the hui, the fusion of waiata, whakatauki and karakia created a harmonious backdrop, underscoring the importance of cultural connection in disability support practices.

In essence, the event served as a beacon of hope and empowerment, uniting practitioners in their commitment to fostering inclusive and culturally responsive care within the disability community. As we reflect on this enriching experience, we are reminded of the transformative power of cultural engagement in shaping a more inclusive and equitable society.

Whānau hauā Māori

The kupu hauā was gifted to CCS Disability Action, and the meaning differs from that in the dictionary.

In Māori legend, Tāwhiri-mātea is known as the god of the winds and elements. Tāwhiri-mātea was also the lone opposition to the separation of his parents, Ranginui and Papatūānuku. Within Tūhoe tribal lore relating to the creation theory, Tāwhiri-mātea was so angry at his brothers for separating their parents that he tore out his eyes, crushed them and threw them into the heavens to clothe his father, creating Matariki or mata-ariki (eyes of God) at the same time. As a result of his actions, Tāwhiri-mātea no longer had eyes to see with.

Tāwhiri-mātea had many children, which made up the different ‘hau’ (winds): te haumātakataka (cyclone), te hauāwhiowhio (hurricane), te hauāuru (west wind), te hau-pūkeri (violent wind), te hau-maiangi (light wind) and te hau-mārire (peaceful wind), to name but a few. Therefore, the children of Tāwhiri-mātea were ‘hauā’, each wind unique in their own way.

We hope this brings you understanding of ngā kupu whānau hauā Māori.

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