Walking into Gisborne’s Ka Pai Kaiti is like walking into a wharekai, there’s an obvious sense of urgency mixed with organised chaos, yet an overwhelming aroma of aroha, manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. Greeted with arms open wide, and smiles that seem to extend even wider, it’s immediately obvious that the space is filled with purpose, and focussed on making a difference in the community they serve. Mauria te Pono Trust have recently located themselves here because of the great atmosphere and whanau environment.
“Our mission of Mauria Te Pono Trust is to LEARN from experience, TEACH with experience and GROW in experience,” says Kim Whaanga-Kipa, Manager Mauria Te Pono Trust.
But that’s just the surface stuff. Kim, husband Manny Kipa, and daughter Ngatoia Pincott, have come through alcohol and drug addictions as individuals, couples, and as a whanau and who have now made it their mission to ‘live life on life’s purpose,’ and be the change they want to see in the world. This involves using shared experiences with other whānau who are trying to pull themselves out of existences where drugs, alcohol and abuse have often been handed down as part of their identity and it’s often all they know. By sharing their own whānau story, breaking down barriers is done effortlessly.
“We don’t go in there as a provider, we go in there as whānau. We sit and we’re one of them, we don’t just go in there to tell them what to do, we go in there and tell them our story, and they share theirs and it seems to be working for a lot of whānau who come.”
Kim and her whānau have spent 26 years ‘cleaning themselves up’ then helping other whānau do the same. When they started to see the effects their lifestyle was having on their children, they knew they too had to be a part of their recovery journey since they had also been a part of their addiction.
“We wanted them to be a part of our healing journey. Once we started having moko, it really changed our perspective around what we’d like to do and what became priority. All of our moko’s have been impacted by this in some way, shape or form. They motivate me, every day I wake up and I think ‘this is what I’m doing for my moko’s’, I want to leave a legacy of truth for them, I want to leave something that’s going to be positive and not a pile of crap in their path. My kids can see something better than this addiction, to have something that they will be proud of one day.”
It wouldn’t be farfetched to describe what they do as a ‘movement’. A flax root movement to change is their moto. A phenomenon that just seemed to happen, largely focussed on encouraging whānau to have hopes and aspirations.
“We say to our whānau dream, give yourselves permission to dream. Dream beyond the tinnie house week by week, dream beyond the pay day to pay day, dream beyond the violence. We talk about the strengths base, we all have strengths and so it’s looking at what we love doing and really focussing on it and seeing how we can build those skills, how can we work with them.”
Ka Pai Kaiti Manager Tuta Ngarimu says Mauria Te Pono fills a massive void for whānau in Gisborne, particularly those dealing with the effects of methamphetamine on their loved ones who have been through residential care.
Mauria Te Pono has big plans and high hopes. The Truth Vent is a project currently in development. It’s a walk-in studio where people can safely share their story, and have a ‘vent’ whether it’s in the form of a song, rap or a blog.
“If it’s keeping them alive it’s keeping them alive,” says Ngatoia.
The intention behind the Truth Vent is to give people the opportunity to vent through different art mediums, and from there work with Mauria Te Pono to consider what a possible pathway forward could be for them.
“At the time my brother was sort of lost in the system, both of us weren’t in a good space and that’s why it was really important for us to just look at ‘what are we good at?’. My mum gave him a mic because she knew he was amazing at rapping and he actually got through his depression, through rapping. Other young adults started gravitating to that and he knew that that was just a beautiful and simple strategy. My strength was around making resources so we did a video together and thought that we could offer that to others. They could come in, share their story or vent, and we could bring our skills together, make videos and that could become their resource, their tool.”
Mauria Te Pono are also linked in with other recovery whānau around the country which can be likened to a whānau movement for positive change. They recently spent a weekend at a regional hui in the Waikato at a marae with a group from Rotorua and Waikato called Rotowai. The purpose is to just be.
“It’s just about getting together, whanaungatanga. Some people go to meetings and some people just do Te Ao Maori, some people go to church, some people do whatever, and this is an opportunity for everyone to get together and just be.”
Into the future Mauri Te Pono will
- Continue their regular weekly Kaupapa Whanau Oranga (recovery group meetings, which offer support to the whole whanau who may have been affected from addictions,
- O.W (Voice of whanau workshops) Encouraging whanau to find their voice, the courage and personal strategies needed to make change.
- Host monthly workshops utilising PATH planning, (a visual strategic planning tool which supports whānau to dream about a positive and possible future and to move forward.
- Whanau Wananga in which whanau will be taken back to the marae as part of their healing and reconnection to whakapapa
- R.U.T.H tomorrows rangatira uniting to heal Walk in Studio- Place to tell their stories in different mediums
- Papakainga Project/Whare Wananga- Building a safe place for whanau to live and be.(long term dream)
“You always start at the end like with the dream, and we say to our whānau dream, give yourselves permission to dream.”