Black Power wives and partners pampered at wellbeing retreat

By Tumamao Harawira

A special health and wellbeing retreat catering to the wives and partners of Black Power members has been held at Manurewa Marae in Auckland.

Black Power women can find it difficult to access health and social services because of their gang affiliations, so under the umbrella of Manurewa Marae, a day was set up to make the women feel special, with activities for children, which included train rides and candy. 

The retreat included access to services with a focus on mātauranga Māori such as mirimiri, weaving, and maramataka Māori.

Manurewa Marae chief executive Takutai Kemp says it was an idea from the women themselves.

"The wāhine actually chose what they wanted to do. They said to us, these are the things that we want to support here for our wahine. Breast screening, cervical screening, health checks, kid's immunisations but, alongside that, our mātauranga."

"There's a health check. We want to make sure that our tamariki are well. We're talking to them about any social issues that they may have and that they need support with. So we're here as a marae to wrap around our whānau and our community."

Manurewa Marae brings back dignity to wāhine.

At home on the marae

Katarina Davis and Claire Gillespie are the brains behind the idea, and Katarina felt that staging the retreat at the marae would help members of the gang become more aware of their Māoritanga.

"It's about connecting with Māoritanga, mātauranga Māori. I feel like we just feel more at home on the marae."

She says it's a far cry from what is regularly shown to the public about gangs.

"Everyone has their view and their opinions on whatever they want to believe in. But at the end of the day, we're all about whānau, we're all about our wāhine, we are all about our tamariki."

Gillespie says it was important to have health services like breast screening but also services that catered to the wairua of the women.

"Just having the Māori health services, providers, that's what our wahine need, and also incorporating rongoā Māori in our everyday lives."