Hei Whakapiki Mauri was involved in the recent Disability Matters Conference, held in Dunedin in late November. The conference focused on discussing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and how Aotearoa is implementing it. The theme was Making the Convention Real - Kia whai tikanga te Kawenata.
The event was very whānau-orientated and it was good to see a Māori presence there, which included Hei Whakapiki Mauri.
The trip to Dunedin was an opportunity for whānau to learn, share opinions and ideas, and to get to know each other better through whanaungatanga. A conference was a new experience for many whānau who attended and they also got to try a lot of other ‘firsts’ over the three days, including some new social opportunities.
Hei Whakapiki Mauri Kaiwhakahaere Gary Williams was a keynote speaker at the event, presenting about his involvement with the development of the Convention and how Māori can use the Convention as taonga. He explained that Tangata whai kaha – disabled Māori – have the additional responsibility of a Māori worldview. This needs to be considered when applying the Convention in a Whānau Ora context.
Kaiwhakahaere Ruth Jones and Navigator Waikura McGregor ran a workshop about Hei Whakapiki Mauri and the philosophy behind the initiative. It focused on the close link – taupuhipuhi – between disability and Whānau Ora.
Two whānau members were also involved in the final panel at the conference, summarising the different themes that were discussed over the three days.
It was important to Hei Whakapiki Mauri that whānau had the opportunity to contribute to the conference proceedings as disabled Māori and family members. Together, whānau worked to address Convention issues and develop recommendations for action. The recommendations from the conference will be published on the University of Otago website and may also be used by organisations when they outline issues with the implementation of the Convention.
Another highlight for whānau were the Hei Whakapiki Mauri hoodies that were supplied to those attending and representing the initiative.