Opening of Waimarie Whare - a House of HopeDisability Issues
We are indeed blessed today with the presence of our kaumatua, Denis Hansen; the Patron, Buck Shelford, and all of the whanau who are living in this wonderful house.
The name of this whare – waimarie – is absolutely perfect,
It is a concept which immediately conjures up an expression of hope:
kia u ki te whakapono, kia aroha tetahi ki tetahi –
hold strong to your beliefs and care for one another.
It is also exactly what I have come to expect from the stunning vision and determination of Charmeyne Te Nana Williams and the transformational impact of What Ever It Takes.
Waimarie is the result of a successful partnership between Housing New Zealand and What Ever it Takes.
Because of this partnership we have a fully accessible, six bedroom house, purpose built and ready for independent living.
I want to acknowledge the contribution of Housing New Zealand; of Maori organisations and local businesses who have helped this day become possible.
But I return to Waimarie Whare – what we might also call a House of Hope.
I have heard it said that “hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality”.
For all of us it is vital that we have something to believe in, a future to aspire towards.
But for whanau who have been affected and traumatised by serious and complex disability it is even more important.
This is where Whatever it Takes has been so significant.
And I want to mihi to Peter and Charmeyne, for the model you have demonstrated for so many other whanau; in persevering through all the barriers; in overcoming the trauma that you experienced, and for never giving up.
You have shown us all how it is possible to sustain a great and enduring love that has enabled you and your whanau to weather the storm, to ride through the darkest days, and to always believe there was a different way ahead.
Today we acknowledge that new model that you are leading the disability sector with – in doing what came so naturally – providing care for whanau affected by complex disability.
I am really excited by the existence of Waimarie It provides whanau Maori who particularly desire to be at home with their whanau member, every opportunity to provide that support in this home.
The house exemplifies the collective approach you live every day. It will enable the whanau to live independently within a whānau setting, with individually allocated resources delivered through the model, and supported by a programme that is driven by the whānau and their goals and aspirations.
It is based on the belief that together, all together, families will be able to live in a way which shares and applies various approaches to help with living with a serious injury.
The aspiration is to provide a pathway for whānau haua leading independent, normal lives.
I want to point out the obvious – that the epic journey associated with serious disability is not easy.
But if I know one thing – it is that the experience of disability is only made even harder by the separation of families.
While I appreciate that anyone who has suffered a traumatic brain and/or spinal injury requires time to recuperate I have the strongest belief in the healing power that whanau bring and the critical importance that whanau have.
And yet until Whatever it Takes came into our life, it was very difficult to find places in which whanau separated from each other as a result of serious injury could be reunited and revitalised in a whanau environment.
From my own experiences in sharing the care of my brother who was a tetraplegic I remember many times in which we felt frustrated, confused, dissatisfied, distressed and it would have been so wonderful to turn to other whanau to seek advice, to unload our concerns and consider new approaches.
And so it is truly so exciting to know there are now options for whanau to live independently as whānau with the appropriate resources, accommodation and support available all around.
This model of service delivery will help restore whānau to their own; it
champions the kaupapa of supporting whānau with disabilities to live at home with their families.
And in doing so it addresses a glaring gap in services.
Maori clients have indicated that although the rehabilitation process is being undertaken and the client and whānau participate in the activities, they are not specifically tailored to the client, the whānau, or the Māori culture.
There is a consistent disappointment that there seems for few options
for whānau to remain physically close to the client and to participate in the rehabilitation pathway.
Frequently there is no opportunity for the clinicians and whanau to work together in a coordinated approach; for whanau to be listened to and respected.
Appropriate levels of support become more difficult to access. A lack of knowledge leads to uninformed decisions. And in cases cultural misunderstandings arise particularly around the intentions of whanau to care for their whanau member collectively.
Whanau are acutely aware that there will be significant daily needs for care, personal assistance, domestic support and on-going equipment and medical needs.
But through it all, despite the disparities, challenges and barriers, whānau Maori remain committed to retaining their whānau unit – to being there for each other, encompassed in the spirit of whakawhanaungatanga, kotahitanga, wairuatanga, manaakitanga.
Today then is an opportunity to celebrate the wonder of whanau – and to acknowledge that whanau are indeed experts in themselves. It is a chance to reflect on the capacity and capabilities of whanau to ensure positive outcomes that are unique and relative to each family.
It is about recognising that whänau are better empowered to make good decisions as they become better informed and supported.
And most of all this is about hope; it is about empowerment; it is about celebrating the way in which we awhi, we manaaki our whanau.
I am delighted to have been part of this wonderful day, and I thank you for the opportunity to be part of this very significant opening – a new start to your journey of whanau wellbeing and independence.