I was delighted to recently release the Whanau Ora Report of the Taskforce on Whanau-Centred Initiatives at an event at Te Puni Kokiri in Wellington.

I was delighted to recently release the Whanau Ora Report of the Taskforce on Whanau-Centred Initiatives at an event at Te Puni Kokiri in Wellington.

I was pleased to be able to publicly thank the Taskforce members Sir Mason Durie, Rob Cooper; Nancy Tuaine, Di Grennell and Suzanne Snively for their commitment and hard work during the past 10 months.

Theirs has been an unenviable task – pulling together all the korero from those who attended some 22 hui throughout the country and sent in more than one hundred submissions; and I believe their report will be a vital resource for our whanau, our marae, our providers for many years to come.

I truly believe that Whanau Ora has the ability to bring the nation forward through a focus on collective responsibility for our own. It is about families taking up the opportunity to restore to themselves, their rights and their responsibilities for each other.

Whanau Ora has been an idea which has been more than 25 years in the making. I am pleased that we are at least seeing some action from a bold Government, and a brave Prime Minister, who are willing to concede that successive administrations have failed to create the long term solution that we know will lead to the strength of families across the nation.

The Minister of Health often refers to the ‘five cars up the driveway syndrome’ to describe situations where multiple agencies work with individual family members often in isolation of each other.

The Taskforce asks us to consider a new approach which focuses on best outcomes for whanau with integrated delivery systems. They discuss the problems associated in concentrating on activities rather than the outcome indicators that are relevant to the family.

I’m puzzled by some commentators who seem to be really struggling what I believe to be a really simple concept – the ‘ora’ – the wellbeing, strength, integrity, identity, safety and prosperity that all our whanau want.

Sam Chapman, who won the Local Hero category of the New Zealander of the Year Awards, is someone who has made whanau ora a reality in every aspect of the work he is involved in across south Auckland. His persistent challenge is to support people to rise above the seemingly impossible circumstances of their lives and for the sake of whanau to try to create pathways to a different future.

In a recent email Sam told me – I’m so grateful for the many heroes that have taught me much of what I know. They are our mums and dads who love and care for the most needy and vulnerable among us, who wash and bathe and brush their teeth, expressions of love their only reward.

Sam also reminded me that it is my own whanaunga that has taught me much of what I know. They are the people who raised and nurtured me and taught me to stand on my own two feet.

They taught me to never forget to extend the hand of love to others in need but most importantly to raise my own family to understand the importance of supporting each other.

We must not continue to allow the state to play the role of surrogate parents and we must realise the importance of family making decisions for family.

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