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Wananga with Te Rau Matatini

He Tangata, he tangata, he tangata

Te Kaha o te Wairua Wananga.

Le Va is honoured to strategically work alongside Te Rau Matatini to deliver Waka Hourua: National Suicide Prevention Programme for Māori and Pasifika Communities on behalf of the Ministry of Health.  

Recently we were privileged to be hosted by tangata whenua, at Manawanui Te Whare Tupuna Marae.  Both the kaumatua, Ronald Baker and Matua Levaopolo Seupule Tiava’asu’e (Le Va’s Matua and the Chairperson of the Le Va Matua Council) provided cultural and spiritual guidance for our kaupapa. 

The purpose of the wananga, was for staff and whanau of Le Va and Te Rau Matatini to come together and share korero/talanoa, matauranga and whakaaro about what it takes to work in Pasifika and Maori communities in the context of Suicide Prevention.

The aim was to reflect on the similarities and differences, and to strive ahead achieving the aspirations of both communities as Waka Hourua, the National Suicide Prevention Programme for Māori and Pasifika communities.

The fono was facilitated by Terri Cassidy, who prompted our discussions to explore our strengths as people, and our relationships in the context of ‘whanau’, ‘whakawhanaungatanga’ and the ‘wa’ (space between).  By doing so, we built insights into the differences and the similarities of our cultures, communities and the work we have done and plan to do, within these environments, and most importantly; how we do this work together.  

One thing is certain, and that is we are peoples bound by te moana nui a kiwa (peoples’ of the Pacific ocean) the world’s largest body of water.   

The Māori whakatauki (proverb) “He Tangata” epitomised our fono and reminded us all of what is most important. 

Hutia te rito o te harakeke
Kei hea te komako e ko?
Ki mai ki au
He aha te mea nui I tea o?
Maku e ki atu
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

Pluck the core shoot of the flax plant, 
Where will the bellbird sing? How will growth begin?
If you should ask me
What is the main element in the universe?
I will reply
It is people, it is people, it is people.

To quote our CEO, Dr Monique Faleafa, “it was a privilege to take part in a partnership and community who have a shared vision to save lives and see our families flourish”.

Le Va and Te Rau Matatini come together for a team photo during the wananga.

Photo credit: Leota Avao Tiatia (Programme Coordinator, Te Rau Matatini)

About the author •
Yvonne is a Senior Project Co-ordinator for Le Va, primarily working on the FLO: Pasifika for life suicide prevention programme. She’s also a registered nurse with over 20 years’ experience specialising in various areas such as sexual/reproductive health, adolescent health and nurse-led clinics.