A safe haven for Māori children in Te Awakairangi

By Regan Paranihi

Te Atiawa ki Te Awakairangi have partnered up with Oranga Tamariki to establish a new home for Māori children in Lower Hutt, called Te Awe.

It is an iwi-led initiative that focuses on implementing Te Ao Māori into the daily lifestyles of the tamariki, and for many this house will become a safe haven for children in the Lower Hutt region.

Minister for Children, Hon Tracey Martin, says "It's been repurposed as a place where young people who have an urgent need for somewhere safe to be can be here while we find a really permanent solid solution for them."

Te Awe is a house that will also nurture cultural values in the hope to bring families back together.

Youth Worker at Te Awe house, Atilla Va'a says, "Things like the incorporation of karakia and waiata on a daily basis has been huge."

He also adds, "We sort of try and keep up the whānau connection and connections with their caregivers so that they can maintain their cultural identity and ultimately help transition them back to their whanau."

This initiative is a part of a partnership that is imposing change for Māori children in care.

"We're having lots of conversation with iwi and hapū around New Zealand about how can we do things differently, how can we do things from a Māori perspective, because what we know is what we've done to date hasn't worked," says Minister Martin.

Te Ati Awa says this problem states back to the Treaty of Waitangi and the crown are still looking for solutions, however, iwi members say they are up for the job.

Kura Moeahu (Taranaki Whānui, Te Ati Awa) says, "It all began then, nearly 180 years ago and they still haven't quite achieved that vision. However, at the end of the day, we reached out to the government and invited in, come and have a look, come and see what we are doing, here is the answer."

The iwi wants to work closely with the government to ensure a better future for the next generations.

"Come with us, here is the mat for us, here is our strategy. Come and learn, bring your funding and your tools and let's work together," says Moeahu."

The government will continue to work closely with iwi across the country to get a better outcome for children.