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PHOTO: Te Hou Ora Whānau Services.

The opportunity to develop Māori-led programmes for pēpi, tamariki and whānau wellbeing and intergenerational playspaces centred on tikanga and te ao Māori has been described as “breath-taking” and a privilege by those involved.

Over the next five years, Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare at the University of Otago, Wellington, will partner with three Māori community organisations, alongside international Indigenous collaborators in the United States, Canada and Australia, led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health.

The group received $28 million USD ($43 million NZD) via a LEGO Foundation Build a World of Play Challenge. LEGO Foundation supports organizations which make substantial contributions to the lives of children from birth to six-years-old.

Otago project lead Dr Paula Thérèse Toko King (Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto) is grateful to be part of the prestigious, Indigenous-led grant, and is excited about the rangatiratanga it provides.

Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare will work with Kōkiri Marae, in Lower Hutt, Toi Matarua Rangatahi Research, in Napier, and Te Hou Ora Whānau Services, in Dunedin, to promote traditional whānau models of wellbeing, nature-based recreational spaces, and cultural teachings which reflect the values of the communities involved.

“We feel privileged to work with our Indigenous partners to support the moemoeā and aspirations for the wellbeing of pēpi, tamariki, whānau and their communities,” Dr King says.

Associate Professor Bridget Robson (Ngāti Raukawa), Director of Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, says the centre was established by Professor Eru Pōmare to do research by and for Māori and to train Māori in a range of research methods.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to work with international and local Indigenous colleagues on community-based research that will help fulfil his aspirations for future generations,” she says.

Kaupapa Māori researcher Cheryl Davis, of Tū Kotahi Māori Asthma Trust and Kōkiri Marae, says being part of the project is a “huge privilege” and she feels honoured to be leading the kaupapa on behalf of the trust and marae.

“It is a huge recognition of the work we all do, and we are excited at the many possibilities a fund like this can create for our organisations and most importantly for our whānau and communities.

“I am so incredibly proud that Tū Kotahi and Kōkiri Marae are a part of this exciting research grant and that we have been provided with this opportunity to learn from other Indigenous people.

“My aspirations are simple – this grant provides us with an opportunity to grow our capacity, support rangatahi involvement, planning and implementing research that is 'by Māori, for Māori', community driven and relevant and results in positive outcomes for our whānau, hapū and iwi,” she says.

Te Hou Ora Whānau Services Chief Executive Dan Anderson describes the grant as a “breath-taking opportunity” as it provides unprecedented access to a platform and network which will further enable the organisation to inspire transformational change for whānau.

“Our involvement has been particularly moving because of the impact we know it will have on our most precious and vulnerable – our tamariki, pēpi.

“This mahi will further evidence the innovative and transformational capabilities of Indigenous community organisations. We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to demonstrate how mātauranga Māori solutions effectively address the complex and intergenerational problems facing whānau,” he says.

Toi Matarua Rangatahi Research Founder Charlizza Matehe says the organisation is “privileged" to be in a position to further investigate Indigenous ways of play as an approach to building connection, strength and resiliency within whānau and communities.

“The opportunity to learn, grow and further develop our research ideology and methods presents huge potential for Toi Matarua. We are humbled to be a part of this exciting journey and we will be leaning in with intent as we maximise this exposure and experience.”

Background on each community partner

Te Hou Ora Whānau Services is a mātāwaka Māori organisation who serves all ages and ethnicities. For 46 years it has been providing a variety of kaupapa based services that whakamana tamariki, rangatahi, pakeke and whānau often reaching and impacting the 'hard to reach' within Ōtepoti.

Tū Kotahi Māori Asthma Trust was established 30 years ago as the first Māori asthma society in Aotearoa. Tū Kotahi has gained expertise in asthma and respiratory services and housing support. It has an interest in research that enables a Māori-led, Māori-focused approach which results in improved health and wellbeing outcomes for whānau and their communities.

Kōkiri Marae Keriana Olsen Trust was established in 1979 as the first Kōkiri Centre in the country, before advancing to become Kōkiri Marae. The Kōkiri Marae Health and Social Services were established in the early 1980s, and were instrumental in establishing a Whānau Ora Collective comprising eight Māori health and social service providers in the Hutt Valley. Between these services, they offer a comprehensive range of health and social services to whānau living in the wider Whanganui-a-Tara rohe.

Toi Matarua Rangatahi Research is a kaupapa Māori research company based in Napier. It exists to unearth the numerous truths of Indigenous knowledge and use it for the healing and advancement of tamariki, rangatahi and whānau.

Full media releases

From the Lego Foundation:

The LEGO Foundation announces recipients of 900 million Danish kroner (US$117 million) global challenge

From the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health:

Center wins top prize from LEGO Foundation

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