Monday, February 22, 2010

whanau ora

Whanau Ora has been getting the blowtorch recently.

I came across this editorial from the Listener and it covered a number of bases quite well. Go here to read the whole editorial.

What is the overall concept behind Whanau Ora
"It’s that a return to traditional tikanga, and in particular the embracing and supporting nature of whanau – over the greater Pakeha emphasis on individuals and nuclear families – will in itself go a long way towards helping many Maori out of the lifestyles of ­deprivation and disengagement."
That is a kaupapa i agree with.
"The aim, as Turia has described it, is to stop the scenario of five Toyota Corollas in the driveway – one each for the Plunket nurse, the truancy officer, the social worker, the probation officer and the district nurse.
Instead, the approach should be from one or two agencies investigating the fundamental problem with a whanau that prevents its members from achieving as they should, and then determining the most effective interventions to improve their circumstances and chances of success. Of course, that will also cut the administrative and compliance costs of helping families.
Won't it be great when there are NO Toyota Corrollas in the driveway because the needs of the family and whanau are being met.
"A Maori child is not better off in a poorly run kohanga reo than in a well-run “Pakeha” kindergarten."
I don't agree with this because it depends upon the outcomes that people are after and the sentence is judge-mental. By what measure is a judgement being made that determines 'poorly run'? Are the cultural considerations of maori going to be added to that judgement regime? If development of tikanga is considered one of the most valuable outcomes, then that could still occur in a "poorly run kohanga reo", especially if the measurement of that does not consider the cultural aspects. 'Poorly run', however, could mean that the tikanga is not correct and therefore the teaching is faulty.
"In the end, however, Whanau Ora will be effective only if it is empowering. In most families, the foundations of success are educational achievement, good health and economic and social engagement, as well as unconditional love and support for family members through all of life’s many highs and lows.
The people in the Corollas can help, but so too can a stronger community, because all of us are better off if we eschew exclusivity and engage with each other. We all share responsibility for whanau because our collective well-being as a nation is just that – collective."
Stronger community is indeed the answer, unconditional love for family members and collective responsibility for our collective well-being. These are good sentiments.

I believe the whanau ora model is the way to go. There is a lot of work to go in developing effective delivery and systems but that is okay. It can be adjusted as we go, if necessary. I also believe it is a maori solution to a maori problem and that this should not be watered down. By the same token all people should have access to these holistic approaches to the very big issues facing all of us - but that shouldn't be whanau ora - it should be developed, with whanau ora as a model, with the target group in mind. Too often we try the one size fits all approach, and sometimes the intent behind it is not so positive.

I also struggle a little with grouping people into the traditional poor, middle class and rich. To me there is a lot of subtle distinction, where people overlap those catagories or just don't fit into them. I don't want to get into the injustice olympics but there is something especially saddening when considering poor indigenous populations.

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