Te Ara Poutama

Case Study


Te Whāriki Manawāhine o Hauraki has been delivering tangata whenua focused services for 40 years and was initially established to provide refuge and support services for wāhine and their tamariki. Te Whāriki hosted a series of guided conversations with Hauraki whānau Māori, focused on leadership and breaking the silence around mahi tūkino (whānau and sexual violence). These conversations gave voice to whānau thinking and solutions about breaking the underpinning codes of silence that ultimately protects perpetrators and perpetuates the cycle of violence. Hauraki whānau asked for resources to support their cyclic journey of healing and recovering from the pain of mahi tūkino.  

Following this, Te Whāriki, Te Whare Whakaruruhau O Tauranga Moana, Taupua Waiora and Good Health Design began a collaboration to help give form to the resources needed by Hauraki whānau. Through various kaupapa over a year, they developed a series of five intertwined and connected kete that contain prompts to guide whānau through their healing journey using matauranga Māori housed within Te Kete Tuauri, Te Kete Tuatea and Te Kete Aronui. Through the design process, concepts for two additional kete were developed – Te Kete Pou Tokomanawa and Te Kete Whenua. Together, these kete are designed to guide challenging conversations with whānau and encourage personal reflection and active processing. They are designed to be interchangeable and modular, allowing facilitators to use each kete and prompts as appropriate and helpful for each unique situation.

The extent to which the research enquiry introduced a new way of thinking about something or its distinctivness.

Whānau violence is a significant problem in Aotearoa and is not just a social, justice or police problem. It is associated with lifelong health consequences, resulting in wide-ranging whānau, physical, mental, and spiritual conditions. The layers of colonisation, historical trauma, abuse in state care, incarceration, and contemporary cultural, social and economic disenfranchisement make whānau violence a complex, multi-layered problem. It can be very challenging to talk about issues of whānau (family) violence. Te Whāriki Manawāhine o Hauraki was leading work to support the Hauraki community and advocate for Māori-led solutions to problems as a direct result of colonisation, recognising a need for Hauraki specific resources for Hauraki whanau.

The reality of violence for whānau is well known – it contributes to whakapapa (genealogical ties) trauma, intergenerational transmission of violence, and compounds the ongoing effects of colonisation and historical and contemporary trauma. Mahi tūkino (whānau and sexual violence) is a difficult and complex topic to engage with. When people are in crisis it can be very complex to unpack what led up to a particular situation. Whānau Māori have solutions within (existing) and from previous generations that people don’t always have access to. For Hauraki whānau, what mattered was breaking the cycles of violence for future generations and reverse the ongoing negative impacts of colonisation.

From 2018 to 2020, Te Whāriki held a series of Kāinga Kōrero with Hauraki whānau Māori that focused on leadership and breaking the silence around mahi tūkino. Kāinga Kōrero provided a whānau with a voice that reflected their thinking and solutions for breaking the underpinning codes of silence that ultimately protects perpetrators and perpetuates the cyclical nature of violence. Te Whāriki refocused its services to align with the voices of Hauraki whānau Māori, who participated in these hui. Kāinga Kōrero has subsequently become a service delivery technique drawing on whānau kōrero. Pivotal to Kāinga Kōrero was Kete Whenua, a resource developed based on the voices of Hauraki whānau who asked for resources to be designed to support their cyclic journey of healing and recovering from the pain of mahi tūkino.

Te Whāriki successfully navigates the complexities and tensions of its collaborations with 12 iwi (tribal nations) across Hauraki. This research was an extension of their already successful collaborations. In 2012, a collaboration that predominantly comprised Māori membership (from Te Whāriki, Te Whakaruruhau o Tauranga Moana, and Taupua Waiora) with partnership with AUT's Good Health Design who bring design thinking and expertise to help Te Whāriki realise its larger vision of creating their Kete Whenua.  

Taupua Waiora is a Māori research centre that engages in community-based research with Māori that aims to contribute to mātauranga Māori, addressing real-world problems affecting whānau, hapū, iwi, and hapori, and aims to inform whānau wellbeing. Good Health Design is a transdisciplinary design research studio based at AUT's School of Art and Design. Its design research team is motivated to help people think differently to explore new possibilities in response to health and wellbeing challenges.  

This collaboration between Te Whāriki, Te Whakaruruhau o Tauranga Moana and AUT aimed to advance relationships and Māori wellbeing, guided by the kōrero of Hauraki whānau in the development of mātauranga-based mana enhancing tools like Te Ara Poutama. Culturally-based tools contribute to building on the strengths whanau already possess while at the same time introducing protective factors for their wellbeing through engagement with Māori culture.  

The team came together after connecting a Design for Health symposium and exploring opportunities to work together. Rather than focusing on different perspectives and roles – different positions celebrated the different knowledge and expertise related to the research context. All were willing and open to go on a journey together that valued each other in a mana enhancing way. The conditions that made the research possible included a willingness for the research team to be comfortable with the unknown, have an openness to new possibilities, and learning, sharing and listening together. In addition, the research team recognised that the potential lay somewhere between the collective's knowledge, experiences and skills/expertise. The project team was fortunate to have the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

The thoughTful and systematic way the question was addressed through the research enquiry.

The kaupapa of Kāinga Kōrero theorised that having guided conversations with Hauraki whānau Māori in environments and with people they feel safe with, will contribute to breaking the silence that protects perpetrators of whānau violence. This research explored how design and creative approaches could help support Hauraki whānau Māori through tools to help guide challenging conversations.

The research used a kaupapa Māori methodology informed by mātauranga Māori and underpinned by the cultural values of Te Whāriki: whānaungatanga (honouring connectedness), mana motuhake (valuing integrity), pūtaketanga (sharing knowledge and wisdom), and hohou ō rongo (healing and advocating justice for all). A Kaupapa Māori methodology enabled a qualitative design informed by a te ao Māori (Māori worldview) lens, decolonisation and intersectionality that incorporates 'thought space wānanga' and a co-design approach to guide the interpretation of the findings. Creative methods (design prompts, tools and prototyping) were used to help show what a co-design journey looked like throughout this collaboration. This required the research team members to be flowing and free, open to new ways of thinking and doing. The project was initiated as a small ‘grass roots’ activity, which meant funding was found along the way. This supported reflexive processes, rather than pre-planned in advance.

Hauraki whānau asked for resources to support their hīkoi (journey) through a cyclical journey of healing and recovering from the pain of mahi tūkino. The theory behind the kaupapa (purpose) of Kāinga Kōrero is that guided conversations with Hauraki whānau Māori in environments and with people with whom they feel safe to contribute to their healing and breaking the silence that protects perpetrators of mahi tūkino.  

Through various hui and wānanga over a year, the research team developed a series of five intertwined and connected kete that contain prompts to guide whānau through their healing journey using matauranga Māori housed within Te Ara Poutama - a card-based interactive toolkit that supports wāhine and their whanau through a process of challenging but guided kōrero, personal reflection and active processing.  

The research showed that reflexivity with tools and approaches was important to create a solution most appropriate to those using them.  This meant setting out to use flexible and open process (e.g., facilitation, te reo māori, partnership, value of listening and sitting with discomfort). Initially, it was tricky to see how the design team could contribute most meaningfully - what was most appropriate, how they were perceived, and how could or should they communicate their value? Consequently, they turned up and listened. This was often uncomfortable, and it was subsequently realised that this was the best thing to do. It was important to ‘be present’. There was no need for solutions or ideas, but be open to possibilities and start a process together to discover what works.

The extent to which the work changes thinking or practIce.

There is a clear need for Māori-centred and whānau-centred initiatives, and the development of training and resources immersed within mātauranga Māori. The research showed new possibilities through design and resulted in a Māori community-led concept implemented on a small scale. This approach enabled the critical exploration of the potential of Te Ara Poutama to support whānau experiencing or who have experienced mahi tūkino to determine what works, for whom, and in what circumstances. Engaging with Te Ara Poutama will help change whānau knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour. These changes represent a shift from the state of mauri mate (lack of anything) through to mauri oho (the awakening), mauri tū (a willingness to stand) and mauri ora (ultimate wellness, the best we can be). The concept of mauri noho (sitting still) demonstrates how transitioning from one state to another is neither linear nor direct but can be achieved with perseverance or repeated exposure to Te Ara Poutama. The findings from future research will be used to inform targeted activities to improve whānau wellbeing across Hauraki when using Te Ara Poutama.

The research findings were shared with kaimahi and with Hauraki whānau Māori via wānanga and hui, Symposia, awards, physical artefacts and social media.

Te Ara Poutama was a community-led and co-designed toolkit grounded in mātauranga Māori. The vision of Te Whāriki was that all whānau in Hauraki are safe by transforming and healing whānau living within the rohe (area) by implementing Kāinga Kōrero and the tools within Kete Whenua (including Te Ara Poutama). An overall goal of the Kete Whenua and Kāinga Kōrero is that Hauraki whānau and communities will become resilient, connected, and safe. The first print run of the Te Ara Poutama toolkit to support this goal was produced in early 2022 and gifted to Hauraki whanau. Through the research, the collaboration was strengthened, supporting junior team members and kaimahi about community-led research. Leadership capacity and capability development was supported through this process. The research resulted in ongoing collaboration with Te Whāriki, and opened up related projects incorporating design processes. The research helped the wider group to think differently about what design can contribute to topics or problems where engagement with design processes is less common. A subsequent funding application to support evaluation and further development was successful.

"That's the wonderful thing about Te Ara Poutama and all the wonderful women and the people that brought this tool to life. It's the essence of who they are, who they were or continue to be, that sits within this kete and I think that is a taonga that we will treasure forever."

Leanne Poutu-Atutahi (Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Hako and Ngāti Haua), Te Whāriki o Manawāhine o Hauraki

Resources and Links

Video — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRIogM8Tmyc

Wilson, D., Mikahere-Hall, A., Jackson, D., Cootes, K., Sherwood, J. (2019). Aroha and manaakitanga—that's what it is about: Indigenous women, "love," and interpersonal violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(19-20), 9808-9837. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260519872298

Wilson, D., Mikahere-Hall, A., Sherwood, J., Cootes, K., & Jackson, D. (2019). E tū wāhine, e tū whānau: Wāhine māori keeping safe in unsafe relationships. Taupua Waiora Māori Research Centre. https://openrepository.aut.ac.nz/handle/10292/13068

Wilson, D. (2016). Transforming the normalisation of intergenerational whānau (family) violence. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing, 1, 32-43. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/ 323747846_Transforming_the_normalisation_and _intergenerational_whanau_family_violence

Te Ara Poutama Case Study on Tāmata Oranga

Best Awards — Bronze in Toitanga

Best Awards — Bronze in Public Good