Disabled Māori set direction at first Hei Whakapiki Mauri hui

Hei Whakapiki Mauri's first Western Christchurch hui in Halswell brought together disabled Māori, whānau and support people to korero about what was important to them. 

The hui was opened by Kaumatua Pete Mason. Kaiwhakahaere Ruth Jones then introduced the project and explained why she and husband Gary Williams started it, while attendees shared kai.

"We wanted to raise the mauri of people with disabilities and bring them closer together with their culture and whānau. That's why we chose the name," says Ruth.

The Hei Whakapiki Mauri tohu emphasises this idea. It was designed to represent togetherness and shows different koru coming together in one kete. The project is also about paying it forward and giving disabled Māori the knowledge and resources to be who they want to be.

"We want you to have great lives, to be strong, and to grow into leaders of others and in your own lives. Hei Whakapiki Mauri is about resourcing you to do this," says Ruth. 

Whakawhanaungatanga was a key part of the hui. Attendees introduced themselves and then explored what was important to them together. 

Stewart, who is recovering from a stroke, is interested in te reo and tikanga. He is already involved with Rehua Marae and is keen to share his knowledge with others. 

Charlene expressed that connecting with whānau and learning more waiata are of interest. Her son is very important to her and she has a talent for singing, which she hopes to build on.

Future hui will be based on what people like Stewart and Charlene want to explore on their journey with the project.

"Basically it is their project. We're here to make sure they can get going in the direction they choose and then they can carry on and lead their own change with whānau." Ruth says.

Hei Whakapiki Mauri’s first Eastern Christchurch Hui will be held on October 8. More information is available here.