Manaaki Tairāwhiti is a unique regional-led response

Manaaki Tairāwhiti is a unique regional-led response that brings together local iwi and leaders across the whole social sector within Tairāwhiti to collaborate and work together to change the system. Their vision is “E tipu matomato ai ngā whānau o te Tairāwhiti. All Tairāwhiti whānau are flourishing”. Their focus areas include reducing addiction, improving child wellbeing, reducing family violence and navigation.

They have embedded Māori tikanga and values in their approach, which guides their practice, decisions and actions. These include the principles of Te Tiriti, mana motuhake, whānau ora, transformative, evidence-based, committed, connected and aspirational. Manaaki Tairāwhiti recognises that “too many whānau in Tairāwhiti are living in crisis and passing that crisis on to their tamariki and mokopuna.” They have committed to “work together to transform social wellbeing in Tairāwhiti within one generation so that all whānau are able to meet their own aspirations and lead fulfilling lives”.

This aspirational goal means that they have had to be deliberate and forward in their approach. One of the unique components of Manaaki Tairāwhiti is their “Way of Working”. They state we are “focused on whānau oranga and [are] streamlined and cohesive. We are solution-focused and action orientated and will not let barriers get in the way of securing outcomes. We use a shared method to generate insights across our programme so we can share and embed our learnings.”. This collaborative approach requires a high level of trust and commitment, which the group actively fosters.

Another key component of their approach is Mana Motuhake. This means “the assertion of autonomy, self-identity and the full expression of potential. Regional mana motuhake would bring home to us the decisions and actions around the delivery of social sector services in Tairāwhiti. Local leaders, particularly iwi and hapū, would decide our social development priorities in line with the whānau aspirations and manage the government investment in our place accordingly.” This assertion of Mana Motuhake puts the community in the driver’s seat when it comes to identifying priorities, setting goals and taking action. As the ones who understand the community context best and deal with the challenges on a day-to-day basis, they can mobilise local solutions to address the needs.

One example is the Whakapono Whānau programme – a community-based response to reducing addiction in Tairāwhiti. Tairāwhiti has one of the highest rates of addiction. People with moderate to severe addiction are less likely to be employed or seek out educational pathways. The high support needs of a person with addiction may also prevent their immediate whānau from working or taking part in education.

The Whakapono Whānau programme works with addicts and whānau to provide the support they need to get off drugs and into employment. The following organisations were utilised in the delivery of this approach:

  • Mauria Te Pono – whānau centred support to address addiction.
  • Turanga Health – Elgin Hub space, a community hub and nursery for education, training and holistic support.
  • Tauawhi – men’s centre providing one-to-one therapeutic support for individuals.
  • Te Puia – residential therapeutic treatment

This approach created an interconnected suite of support options that range from prevention, intervention and clinical support to help whānau flourish.

Over 500 whānau have been supported since its inception in 2021. Feedback indicates that whānau need is being heard and responded to.

Overall, the Manaaki Tairāwhiti approach is a powerful example of how communities can come together to create positive change. By placing whānau at the centre and providing locally led united leadership Manaaki Tairāwhiti has helped to build a stronger, resilient community that can better support their whānau to flourish.

For more information, visit

2 Cameron Street, Kaiwharawhara

+64 4 473 9591 or 0800 628 284

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To improve Māori Health through leadership, education, research and evaluation, health workforce development and innovative, systemic transformation. We strengthen Māori health and wellbeing through nationally navigated and locally led solutions.