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Manaakitanga key to good Te Puna Oranga services


Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki has been a big part of Ōtaki efforts to protect the community from Covid-19, but much of its health-oriented work is more general and has been happening behind the scenes.

The charitable organisation began as the Ōtaki integrated family health centre in 2012, and rebranded a couple of years ago to become Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki (TPoŌ).

SUPPORT: Hunga Rangatahi volunteers, Harlem Winterburn and Jasper Manga supporting the RATS distribution at Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki’s Covid in the Community Hub.

Photo supplied

Its vision is “together, enabling a thriving community centred in a wellspring of abundance”. It seeks to achieve this through connectivity, communication, education, community leadership, and enabling community-led initiatives.

Even before the arrival of Covid, the organisation was delivering the Hunga Rangatahi programme and working towards understanding health and well-being needs in the community. Hunga Rangatahi is a 12-week programme that helps rangatahi find employment, education or training, and provides access to driving licences and work experience. It also provides access to mental health services and develops hauora (health) plans for 15-24 year olds.

After rangatahi have completed the programme, they have access to Manaaki Ao, a TPOoŌ  mentoring programme that provides additional support and offers a tuakana/teina- relationship that has te mana o te tangata at its core.

Mandated by Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, TPOoŌ has been busy recently with the Covid-19 response. Funding has come from several sources, including MidCentral DHB, Ministry of Social Development, Te Arawhiti (Office for Māori Crown Relations) with contributions from Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki and Nikau Foundation. The DHB provides a mixture of clinical services and administration that include vaccination events.

Covid  dominated the nation and in 2021 there was a significant drive to provide opportunities for Ōtaki to receive vaccinations. Coordinated by  Kurupae Rikihana and Te Kotuku Kaiki, this involved working out ways to best get locals to clinics. Staff set up pop-up clinics at the Ōtaki skatepark, at the beach, the racecourse, at marae, and had regular clinics at Taaringa roa opposite Countdown in collaboration with the Ōtaki Medical Centre.

“More recently and with the threat of Omicron, the lack of office space available in Ōtaki made us a bit anxious before Christmas,” says  project manager Moko Morris. “We had no idea how or where we could operate a Covid space quickly, and we didn’t want to rely on out-of-town services.” The solution came through the generosity of Te Runanga o Raukawa, which owns the empty building next to the museum in Main Street. It became a vaccine and testing clinic, complete with covered walkway and a safe outdoor space with a large car park.

It was leased with the understanding that Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki would pay some rent, eventually.

“Acts of manaaki like this have given us the strength to continue and allowed us to relax a little and focus our energy on what might be coming,” Moko says.

Setting up the testing station was something TPoŌ anticipated early. It worked closely with the Ōtaki Medical Centre and through kotahitanga (collaboration) the two organisations were able to boost health access for the community.

“We jointly bought another Cold Chain fridge, for example, which meant there was immediately more space to hold vaccines at the appropriate temperatures,” Moko says. “We also expect to hold whānau consultations where a whole whānau could visit and relieve the overflow from the Ōtaki Medical Centre.”

TPOoŌ  has also boosted its welfare services to help people in Covid isolation at home. It has been delivering manaaki kai packs, hygiene packs and rongoā (medicines). With access to other services, the service has been funded through the Ministry for Social Development.

“We meet weekly with MSD and the DHB to see where gaps are forming and to support the Ōtaki response. Advocacy and networking is essential in trying to recover from these times.

 Staff have carried the burden for the community with a smile on their face, despite receiving varying levels of response, including abuse from the general public who have no understanding of what is happening behind the scenes.

And while Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki is a kaupapa Māori organisation, it services the whole community, not just Māori.

“We know we don’t have all the answers but we’re keen to work with everyone in the community to ensure we are meeting needs. A different type of energy is required that is guided by manaakitanga and ensures everyone has a seat at the table.”

Looking to the future and what Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki can do to best support the whole community,   plans include:

  •  Designing a survey and interview questions so future services are derived from actual data and represent the voice of Ōtaki. It’s needed because people’s habits and situations have changed. The survey will begin mid April pending funding.

  •  Maara kai course development, so that ŌTAKI is growing high-volume, nutrient-dense food, and understand the whakapapa of where our food comes from. Funding has been received for this and planning is under way.

  •  Rangatahi spaces in Ōtaki and how this can be increased to cater to our diverse youth community and include then in shaping their history

  •  Looking after those who are voluntarily in self-isolation and what types of support are need after Covid-19.

Funding for ‘extra challenges’

Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki recently received a $2000 grant from Nikau Foundation to help with the extra challenges created by the Omicron outbreak. Nikau Foundation Kāpiti Committee chair Adrian Gregory says the foundation is aware that Omicron has created additional challenges for communities. “Many are experiencing heightened financial insecurity or anxiety. We were delighted to support Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki as they deliver crucial services during this outbreak.”




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Manaakitanga key to good Te Puna Oranga services

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