Mikaira Pau is on a mission.
He, along with other community minded whānau throughout the country, has been promoting the E Tū Whānau Charter of Commitment and the values that underpin it at marae, hui and events throughout the summer. The number of signatories keep rising but Mikaira isn’t interested in “a numbers game”.
People only sign the charter when they understand what they’re signing, when they’re ready to make a commitment to a violence free life for themselves and their whānau.
“I don’t care if, say, only eight people sign the Charter because but that represents eight thoughtful, indepth conversations I’ve had with whānau who are genuine in their commitment to the kaupapa. These are people who live these values and quietly influence those around them as a result.”
Charter is our wero
Makaira says he thinks of it in terms in of a pōwhiri.
“When you arrive at the gate, a warrior comes to challenge you and you’re not allowed into the marae until you’ve made your intentions clear. That’s how I look at the Charter. When you come onto this marae, which is called E Tū Whānau, you are coming onto a place of protection. The Charter is our wero.
“By understanding the kaupapa and agreeing that violence, especially family violence, is a transgression against whānau and whakapapa, you acknowledge, and declare, your own practice around family life.”
This Taitokerau father takes a laptop to events to give people the option of signing the Charter online.
“Their name appears alongside all the other New Zealanders who’ve signed and they see straight away that they are part of this powerful movement for positive change in our communities.”
He also suggests people write the name of someone special to them – their tamariki, moko or tupana maybe – on helium-filled balloons and release them into the atmosphere along with their aroha, their courage and their commitment to a violence free life for their whole whānau.
“For many, that is a very powerful and spiritual declaration of their values.”
Mikaira, who has a strong background in the fields of education and health, is currently working on E Tū Whānau projects with the indigenous education and training institute, Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa.