A Nelson-based carver is on a mission to provide 100 pounamu a month to tamariki in state care.
Tū Maia, a partnership between Timoti Moran (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi), his whānau and VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai (an advocacy group for children in care). Moran says he hopes to eventually gift a pounamu pendant to all 6000 children in state care.
Moran, who owns Taonga by Timoti in Nelson, will gift one pounamu piece for every other piece sold in his store. The programme has been running for a month, and Timoti so far around 60 pounamu have been gifted.
He says the feedback so far from VOYCE has been emotional.
Big step in journey
“Lot’s of mamae, lots of thanks, lots of grief.”
His wife, Morganne, says the pounamu is also helping tamariki in care reconnect to their taha Māori.
“We had a beautiful response from one young wahine who said she had been disconnected from her Māori whakapapa through the system. And having her pounamu was just like another big step in her journey back to that reconnection.
“That is exactly what we’ve been hoping to achieve for these young people.”
Moran says his motivation comes from his own lived experience. Both he and his wife grew up in large families. He says he was raised to help those who needed it, something he still strives to do.
“Pūtea was never something that was ever employed. If we gifted kai, we didn’t expect money. It was the same with this gifting programme. Why have my tūpuna allowed me to find so much pounamu when we can gift it without pūtea involved?
“It has really flown, like that waka on the Air New Zealand advert. We’ve also found that by removing the pūtea aspect of it, it cuts through a lot of red tape. It’s basically a big koha."
Morganne says the ambitious target isn’t cheap. Using the funds from other pieces sold allows them to set aside some money.
“One taonga, one taonga. We also have a donation programme as well, so that helps as well.”
Moran says Tū Maia has to be an ongoing koha with tamariki continuing to enter into state care.
“We’re trying to set this up so either our children when we are gone will run the workshops and carry this on. But the ultimate game is to get the rangatahi that are in state care to actually do this mahi for other rangatahi when they come into care.”