Manurewa Marae helping families this Christmas season

By Muriwai Hei

Manurewa Marae has identified the burden of the Christmas season on families in the community but is also attempting to navigate with funding that stops at the end of the year.

It's getting closer to the Christmas season and the costs of living have shot up. Manurewa Marae chief executive Takutai Kemp says she has seen the pressures on families in the communities of south Auckland, and Māori health providers have a vision for this season.

“We all have a shared vision (Papakura Marae, Waipareira and Te Puea Marae) to spread joy, and see the smiles on whānau's faces at a time that's hard. So we now prepare those services. So foodbanks are ramping up, the team will start putting the call out to the whānau who are registered at the marae and say, 'Hey, we're getting ready for six days of Christmas we're doing here and we're going to spread some Christmas joy and spirit.,”  Kemp says.


Manurewa Marae prepares for another Christmas season to help whānau out.

But at the same time, she worries there has been a significant reduction in childhood vaccinations. And those vaccinations are one of the strategies that the marae uses to get whānau to come along and get more knowledge on health issues.

“We pop up, we provide our community vibe, which is around having some fun with our hapori, so we bring our DJ, we bring free kai, and we just kōrero and it's all about getting our whānau engaged. They might not necessarily all come to the marae but, if we go to them, this is a local solution that we provide going into our local communities, To pop up and provide health checks for whānau but also where we can talk to whānau about all things hauora is good for all of us.”

Biggest challenge: funding

During the Christmas season, the marae supports more than 400 families but the people inside those houses make up thousands who are supported by the marae.

The funding from Te Whatu Ora, Te Aka Whai Ora, and the Ministry for Social Development will stop at the end of this year but Kemp says the funding is needed for the coming years.

“Our biggest challenge is funding, knowing that Covid funding finishes at the end of the year, and we've built these relationships with whānau. What's going to happen past December? So again, we need this workforce we built during Covid-19. We don't want to lose them. So we need that constant push of funding. We don't want to lose what we have. We want to be able to maintain or retain the current funding that we have so that we can continue work on these issues that are in our community but funding is the biggest restraint.”

On December 14, the marae will start its six days of Christmas in the communities of South Auckland.