December 13, 2021

A year of connection in West Auckland

Encouraging community connections, contributing to system change and reorienting funding and investment from an array of partners into the prevention system in West Auckland are just some of the highlights of 2021 for Healthy Families Waitākere.

Over the course of the year, the team has been able to leverage significant investment (approximately $600,000) from a variety of funders to support our communities, both in responding to the impacts of Covid as well as progressing our mahi.

This has included funders such as the Ministries of Education and Social Development, Foundation North and Auckland Council (including the Henderson Massey, Waitākere Ranges and Whau Local Boards) to name a few. This funding has supported many initiatives with examples including the development of a Food Secure Communities Plan (led from a Kaupapa Māori perspective), a Play Streets initiative in partnership with Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, the establishment and support for a Samoan ECE Community of Care (Tafesilafa’i) and the distribution of play packs to our communities.

Looking back on the year, Healthy Families Waitākere’s Manager Kerry Allan says the reach of the team has been significant, working alongside partners across West Auckland to deliver tangible outcomes for the community at a particularly challenging time.

“We have seen ongoing pressures on the region this year that have been exacerbated by the extended Auckland lockdown period. Over this time, we have continued to amplify our work, working with community to drive sustainable, systemic change across a number of key areas,” says Kerry.

“Just some of the many areas have included building food resilience, enhancing health and wellbeing, fostering new community-focused play opportunities and creating more sustainable, liveable neighbourhoods that put people at the heart of urban decision making.”

The results of the team’s community focus and partnering with like-minded organisations is evident in the large number of highlights from the year, with some detailed below.

  • A number of ‘kai hui’ were convened by Healthy Families Waitākere in collaboration with other partners to create pathways leading to a more resilient community and define kai sovereignty in West Auckland. The Kai Sovereignty Roopu (group) gathered valuable insights from local organisations and whānau to develop a food secure plan from a Te Ao Māori lens – Mana Motuhake o te Kai.
  • Tāfesilafa’i, the West Auckland Samoan ECE community of care, was created with a focus on addressing a lack of Samoan resources and support for teachers that was impacting their wellbeing at work.  The aim of the group is to build teachers’ capacity to grow and exchange knowledge in order to develop pedagogy and curriculum with a Samoan worldview and in turn, improving their interactions with children and their families to create a thriving ECE environment.
  • Recognising the challenges faced by those working in early childhood education (ECE) settings, Healthy Families Waitākere worked alongside the Heart Foundation to design and test a series of workshops which identified opportunities to improve people’s health and wellbeing.  The insights were subsequently used by the Heart Foundation to develop a national toolkit for the delivery of ECE kaiako wellbeing PD and a framework of critical success factors for effective workplace wellbeing PD.
  • Active Whakapapa was developed based on M2M (Maunga to Moana), a range of events that aim to increase exposure and access to traditional stories of places for Māori and non-Māori, spoken Te Reo Māori and waiata. This enhances people’s sense of the Māori world view of the environment and their role as kaitiaki, while also providing an incentive to be physically active.
    Active Whakapapa will allow participants to independently complete an explorative hikoi in their own time and pace, with accompanying downloadable audio. The success of the initiative was recognised in The Kūmara Awards Looking Back to Move Forward category for celebrating places of cultural significance through an immersive storytelling experience about the taiao and tangata through whanaungatanga and mātauranga Māori. 
  • Play Streets were hosted across several suburbs with more than 300 local residents taking part in the events, designed as simple, low-cost activities where residents worked together to temporarily limit vehicles on a neighbourhood street.  The street closures allowed children and whānau to play and socialise, with everyone able to actively engage with others in their immediate neighbourhood. Learnings from the Play Streets initiative contributed to the development of guidelines to support communities in running their own Play Streets events. 
  • Over Auckland’s lockdown Healthy Families Waitākere, Sport Waitākere and community partners united to revitalise the West Auckland Together hub, a digital platform launched last year during the initial Covid-19 lockdown.  It provides extensive information designed specifically for families in West Auckland with a focus on ideas, resources and tips for family wellbeing which are all simple, easy to find and relevant for whānau.
  • Recognising the challenges for business owners in investing in workplace wellbeing amidst the everyday demands of running a business, Healthy Families Waitākere contributed to development of the Rosebank Business Association (RBA) wellbeing initiative, which started in 2020.   A number of activities have been implemented as part of the wider collaboration, including a Wellbeing Business Challenge event and undertaking the first Rosebank Wellbeing Survey, with the findings and insights helping to inform the next phase of the RBA’s wellbeing movement.
  • The kaupapa Māori initiative He Pī Ka Rere was integrated into mainstream early childhood centres (ECE) across West Auckland.  The initiative equips tamariki with the skills and knowledge to learn healthy habits and behaviours by applying indigenous techniques which have sustained tūpuna for generations.  The first workshop series took place over two days in February, with 15 ECE kaiako learning about kaupapa Māori, Atua Māori (gods and spirits) and traditional games which work alongside pūrakau (myths and legends).  The focus was on broadening the capabilities of kaiako in kaupapa Māori, which is then passed back to the tamariki during learning time.

Further examples of Healthy Families Waitākere’s mahi is captured in the Sport Waitākere 2020/21 Annual Report or at https://www.healthyfamiliesWaitā