Ōtautahi couple help rangatahi through community-based social enterprise

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Whānau Whanake is a community-based social enterprise based in Ōtautahi Christchurch, which has been supporting whānau in their community for over 10 years. 

Nestled in the suburb of Hoon Hay Christchurch and led by couple Cate and Riwai Grace, it runs initiatives such as physical training for pakeke, māra kai with rangatahi, waananga, and more. 

“We say to whānau 'what do you need to live your best life, and what resources do you need to get there'?” Cate Grace says. 

The initiative came after both Cate and Riwai suffered from underlying health conditions and identified that there wasn't adequate support for them at the time. 

“We didn't quite fit the mainstream support and we didn't fit the kaupapa Māori support back then either. Being Māori whakapapa, we decided to do something for ourselves.” 

From their own experience of physical and mental healing, they have since helped more than 1,700 individuals do the same through their physical training programmes at their own gym, healthy cooking classes, and even preparing for big events such as Iron Māori. 

Activities for rangatahi are also a big focus, Riwai Grace says. 

“We try to have events at least once a month or every two months depending on what's happening at the time, weather or Covid and we’re encouraging them to take charge, tell us what they need and tell us what we can do to help them achieve that, so we really listen to what they want.”