Waikeria Mental Health and Addiction Service Project update, 25 August 2020

Waikeria AugustKia ora e te whānau

We hope this news find you and your whānau well. Covid-19 has created a period of time like no other across the world and closer to home. In Aotearoa, we have collectively achieved so much to enable a return to life, almost as we knew it, before lockdown in March. We thank all those people on the frontline across all of our communities who have, and continue to keep people and communities safe. Let us all keep doing our bit to keep people well.

During lockdown we progressed the Mana Whenua - Ahi Kā Foundation Document for the Waikeria Mental Health and Addiction Service (WMHAS). Our mana whenua and ahi kā partners formed Te Arawai; a rōpū led by mana whenua and ahi kā and including a range of specialists. Te Arawai have led this incredible piece of work which is a powerful representation of our collective desires and aspirations for the new service. The foundation outlines partnerships and relationships, service visions and principles, the purpose of this mahi, and the framework; the journey overview of how the service will flow.

The foundation has been well-received by our internal board and leadership groups, and we look forward to sharing the final foundation document with you in due course.

Completing the foundation document is a critical milestone for our mahi. We are now shaping the details of the service based on a foundation designed to enable and awhi people in our care to achieve oranga for themselves, and their whānau. Our design process and service approach is underpinned by the principles and detail identified in the foundation document; highlighting the importance of tikanga, kawa, matauranga Māori, te reo Māori and te ao Māori perspectives.

I want to leave you with an excerpt from the foundation document, which speaks to the mana whenua - ahi kā narrative; a point of difference of our service approach and design - the concept upon which the foundation has been built.

Ahi kā is a reference to the fire that one must keep burning on their whenua, as a symbol or sign of their occupation of that whenua. Ahi kā is a metaphor too for the home people of the pā, who keep the home fires burning. The word 'ahi' means to burn, kāinga which means home, derives from the kupu 'kā' - so another rendering of kāinga means 'where the fire burns' - where the ahi kā burns. In ancient times, fire was an essential part of life within a village. It provided warmth during cold periods, a method to cook food, and light to guide the people home during long, dark nights. To our ancestors, the care of a central fire ensured their survival, so they tendered to the fire every day and every night. Overtime, this practice became known as ahi kā or the continuous maintenance of the home fires. The nature of ahi kā is not a single state, rather it, like fire, waxes and wanes dependent upon access to and the ability to stoke the flames.

Te Ahi Mahana/Ahi Teretere; Ahi kā, that is warm but not fully ablaze, but nonetheless burning. A reference to those who live away from the ahi kā but now and again return home for gatherings and reignite the ahi. He kanohi kitea, he hokingā mahara; a seen face, a homecoming of memories.

Ahi Mātao; Ahikā that has been reduced to dying embers, nearly extinguished ‘ahi pirau’ a fire that no longer burns. He whakatauki; ‘ngaro tangata ora’ of the living who has been lost; the faces of those who have been missing for so long from the whānau, hapū, iwi; have been forgotten.

Ngā mihi nui, te tima o WMHAS.


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