A Government policy introduced to improve health and social outcomes for struggling New Zealand families is paving the way for a Ngāti Awa hapū to be masters of their own destiny.

Ngati Hokopū ki Wairaka are hosting a series of noho marae to discuss and develop a strategic plan to realise the aspirations members hold for the Wairaka based hapū. The project is partially resourced from funding secured through the Māori Party’s flagship Whānau Ora policy.

Tu Mai Ngāti Hokopū Steering Committee spokesperson Dayle Hunia says that the project is very much a hapū approach to “enabling” families.

“A hapū is, very simplistically, a grouping of families who are connected by common genealogy so a hapū development project such as Tū Mai Ngātu Hokopū is intrinsically a whanau development project”

“Strong individual family units are key to a strong hapū so a primary aspect of the project will be identifying ways we can support our families, from tamariki to kaumātua and everyone in between.”

Mrs Hunia says the support received from the Whanau Ora programme was instrumental in getting the project up and running this year.

“Raising funds to resource a project like this is a mammoth task in itself. The Whanau Ora funding reduced the amount we needed to raise ourselves and basically allowed us to get moving a lot sooner than we were planning.”

Whānau Ora presents a different approach to working with families, focusing on developing whanau as a collective, rather than individuals and their personal needs.

A total of just over $53 million was made available in Budget 2013 for implementing, developing and evaluating Whanau Ora.

Changes to the policy were recently implemented after the Whanau Ora programme was reviewed last year, alongside a review of Te Puni Kokiri. Whanau Ora Governance Group chairman Sir Mason Durie announced the changes earlier this year and extolled the development made through the policy.

“Progress since 2010 has been remarkable, not only for the establishment of a system for which there was no precedent but, more importantly, for demonstrating how significant gains for whanau and families can be achieved.”

But Sir Durie also issued a challenge.

“The latest decisions signal a commitment to strengthen the direct engagement and support of whanau and families to set and realise their own development aims and aspirations.”

The first of the Tu Mai Ngāti Hokopū noho marae will be held on October 4 and 5. Visit www.wairaka.maori.nz for further information.