On 29 March the Hon Tariana Turia outlined the whānau ora policy for a group of Chapman Tripp's clients.

The presentation was part of a series hosted by Chapman Tripp to enable our clients to keep their fingers on the political pulse in the run up to the 2011 general elections.

Her speech follows.

Hon Tariana Turia, Minister Responsible for Whanau Ora

In Steven Covey's best-seller, the seven Habits of Highly Effective Families he refers to a speech given by former first lady Barbara Bush to a group of graduating students. She said:

"As important as your obligations as a doctor, lawyer, or business leader will be, you are a human being first, and those human connections – with spouses, with children, with friends – are the most important investments you will ever make.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent...Our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house"

If we were to replace the White House with Te Whare Miere – literally the house of the bees – it could well sum up the thoughts I want to share with you today.

But to truly make those thoughts ours I want to instead turn to the wisdom of the first lady of Ngati Whatua, Naida Glavish, who at the launching of Whanau Ora last April, shared these ideas with the gathering :

Whānau is central to our wellbeing; and that is not simply Mum, Dad and the kids. It is our ancestors and those not yet born. If we honour our Whānau connections, the MODEL of Whānau in a holistic sense will give us our mana back, our wellbeing, and our health.

Whānau Ora will enable us to end need, to end dependence, and to end helplessness among our people.

Today then, I have come to share the good news about Whanau Ora – and it is a story about survival and longevity.

One of the key indicators of success that I have realised Ministers tend to look for – whatever the portfolio – whatever the need – is a description of indicators that demonstrate the value for money.

Fortunately we have the expertise of master accountant, Professor Whatarangi Winiata, that has helped us to understand quantitative and qualitative measures of how we take into account the value of roopu tuku iho, whanau, hapu and iwi.

In a paper entitled Maori management of tino rangatiratanga, Matua Whatarangi described these groups as having the following characteristics:

  • the members of each have a common ancestor/tupuna
  • each has a specific geographical region
  • each has a network of whanau, hapu and marae
  • each network is recognised by its neighbours as such
  • and each has members who have a deep concern for the maintenance and enhancement of the mana of their group – that is mana-a-whanau; mana-a-hapu; mana-a-iwi.

In a landmark piece of legislation passed last week – the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill – this same concept of mana tuku iho – an inherited right or authority derived in accordance with tikanga – is described as being paramount to our connection to the foreshore and seabed.

So it is a key concept for New Zealand – and thereby – for business, the economy, our communities to understand.

When I was asked to speak to this group, I was asked specifically to discuss Whanau Ora – but in order to do so, I thought it important to discuss – albeit briefly – what the structure of whanau looks like.

As Naida said, it is not just about Mum and Dad – and as Matua reminds us – the prevailing connection to an ancestral line is critical to the understanding of whanau.

It builds on the universal strength of effective families - as we might find in any community – but there is also that vital link to a long line of ancestors from which we find our inherited rights – and from which we also find so many of our solutions.

We don't need to make up new models - the old ways provide a base, which we need to revitalise. It is about activating the memories of those who have come before us – to create and recreate an environment in which whanau will be strong, secure, safe, healthy and happy.

I am passionate about the definition of whanau as being based on our whakapapa – our genealogy. I have to say I have never been one to favour the loose use of the term whanau to describe a group - say for the sports team at the office or a group of children within a school setting. There are other names for such a concept – roopu being one.

For me, whanau is both a verb and a noun – it is to be born of; to give birth; as well as the name of the group of people bound together by their common genealogy.

With all these commons in context then, let me explain in brief what our intentions are with Whanau Ora.

In October last year, we announced the selection of 25 provider collectives. These 25 provider collectives were selected from 130 Expressions of Interest comprising around 350 providers of which almost 40% were received from provider collectives.

The 25 selected provider collectives consist of 158 providers across the country including four Pacific providers located in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The high number of provider collectives resonates with this Government's message to be more effective and efficient by working collaboratively across sectors and it also expresses the Governance Group's preference of submissions for larger scale collectives and providers.

To tell the truth, I think no-one had any idea of the scope of the project that we had embarked upon, until we started travelling around the country last year – to hui where it was literally standing room only.

I cannot tell you just how exciting it has been to turn up to say Nga Hau e Wha marae in Christchurch and be greeted by 600 people all wanting to know about whanau ora.

I am really overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for whānau ora from a range of stakeholders; whānau, communities, providers, practitioners, government departments and even my ministerial colleagues.

I am in no doubt that this strong collaboration will continue to gather momentum and that over time we will see more and more whānau empowered to take control over their future.

There is also a number of areas across the country where the Governance Group felt there was not the strength of service delivery or the level of collectivity to identify suitable providers / collectives to progress to Programmes of Action.

I have asked the Governance Group to consider these areas for development in the next phase. These areas include Kaipara, Hauraki, South Waikato, Taupo / Turangi, Palmerston North, Wairarapa, Levin / Kapiti Coast and Murihiku.

So what's the long term plan?

For whanau – the outcomes we seek are that whanau will be

  • self-managing
  • living healthy lifestyles
  • participating fully in society
  • confidently participating in Te Ao Māori
  • economically secure and successfully involved in wealth creation, and
  • cohesive, resilient and nurturing.

But the transformation – as significant as it is – isn't just about whanau determining their own destinies.

It is also about signalling the significance of our survival as tangata whenua will come out when it is bound in our own strategies of success.

The key priority at the moment is for Government to come to a point of understanding what it is we mean by Whanau Ora.

Officials from Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Social Development are working with the Whānau Ora provider collectives to progress their Programmes of Action.

The Programmes of Action will ensure there is a planned approach to the actions providers need to take to move to a new way of working under the Whānau Ora approach.

This will then inform the business cases that identify the resources needed for the providers/provider collectives to make transformative changes.

The six focus areas for Programmes of Action are:

  • Relationship Management
  • Infrastructure
  • Integrated Contracting
  • Workforce and Practice Development
  • Monitoring and Evaluation,
  • Action Research.

Each of these could in itself represent new ways of working – but the three areas I want to particularly emphasize are collaboration at the local level; integrated contracting and action research.

Regional Leadership Groups Regional Leadership Groups have been in place since July last year where they have assessed applications and provided recommendations to the Whānau Ora Governance Group. They are now focusing on championing whānau ora within their respective regions.

Each Regional Leadership Group comprises ministerial appointed community representatives and officials from Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Social Development and District Health Boards. It is a key way of ensuring that local solutions are determined at the local level – and it is heavily reliant on collaboration and cooperation at the level of whanau, hapu and iwi – rather than being centrally controlled in Wellington.

Integrated Contracting The process to date reflects a sea change in thinking around service provision. It has been particularly noticeable the level of interaction that iwi and service providers now have to generate collective capacity and capability to meet increased demands for whānau centred services.

Whānau Ora advances progress in integrated contracting by:

  • supporting whānau to increase their capacity and capability to determine their own futures and to reduce over time their reliance on government funded services
  • encouraging collaborative, strengthened and integrated holistic service delivery across a range of health and social service providers, and
  • transforming government services toward whānau-centred practice.

In a number of collectives, the depth of service delivery needed to achieve the expected outcomes will require them to add in additional providers and to build strong links with providers of specialist services – such as family violence prevention or disability services.

The third key area of progress is Action Research I have always been really clear, that Whanau Ora needed an outcomes framework to measure progress toward achieving outcomes for whānau ora and whānau. The last thing in the world I would want is for bean-counting, silo by silo: how many meetings had; how many people served; how many booklets distributed.

So Whanau Ora will be underpinned by a comprehensive research, evaluation and monitoring programme that will measure the success of the approach for whānau, for providers, for the New Zealand population and in terms of value gained for government investment. It is about outcomes that are influenced by the needs that whanau identify and choose. It is about whanau being empowered to develop a plan for their future; to trust in their own solutions.

We are at the starting point of major transformation in the way services are designed and delivered, contracts arranged and the way providers work together.

But most of all we are at the starting point of our cultural transformation; celebrating the power and potential of a whanau-centred approach which will enable our people to flourish. Whanau Ora is about maximising our survival through a model of transformation which will impact on all our futures.

It is the means by which we take up our collective responsibility for each other; it is possibly the first time in which Government has been able to measure value for money against a cultural construct. And most of all – it forms the basis for a conversation that we can all enjoy within this land of ours, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tena tatou katoa.

The information in this article is for informative purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.