This story is one in a series profiling the eleven finalists in the inaugural E Tū Whānau Ann Dysart Kahukura Award 2022 which recognises and celebrates inspirational community leadership.
E Tū Whānau kahukura are those people who support, encourage and strengthen whānau by modelling values, behaviours and actions that are positive ‘footprints’ that can be followed.
Ten years ago, Fallon and Reuben Hauraki came to understand the impact their dysfunctional lifestyle was having on their own children and other rangatahi who gravitated to the kindness and relative safety of their Ruatoria home.
Change was not easy, but they were determined and over the following five years they stopped using alcohol and methamphetamine, got on board with the E Tū Whānau kaupapa and began building a positive, violence-free home based on the E Tū Whānau values.
Despite scepticism from some in their community, they stayed staunch to this new kaupapa and went all out to actively practice these values in their day to day lives.
Hauraki whānau – leading the way for others to follow
Reuben and Fallon transformed their own property into a papakāinga, a safe space for young families and rangatahi to stay drug-free and to thrive in an atmosphere of acceptance and love. They taught life skills to their own tamariki, and to their whāngai rangatahi. They also provided home-schooling to those who didn’t fit into the mainstream education system and supported others into employment.
Connecting whānau to intrinsic Māori ways of doing things has been a game changer. They’ve hosted wānanga on tikanga Māori. With the support of kaupapa Māori alcohol and drug services provider, Mauria Te Pono Trust, they’ve also organised wānanga with nationally recognised experts on methamphetamine use and recovery. These attracted whānau from throughout the district.
The ripples from the dedication and hard mahi of this whānau continue to influence change within their community and beyond. By retaining his position as rangatira of the local Mangu Kaha chapter, while championing a kaupapa free of meth, crime and violence, Reuben is helping to build trust and heal old rifts between different groups in the community. Fallon now works fulltime as a Navigator for Manaaki Tairawhiti. She has become an outspoken and passionate advocate for the needs of disadvantaged rangatahi, willing to lobby anyone from the Human Rights Commissioner to local kaumātua to ensure their voices and concerns are heard and valued.
Fundamental to all this positive change is Fallon and Reuben’s commitment to their own personal growth, to a brighter future for their rangatahi and wider whānau and a longstanding commitment to the realisation of te mana kaha o te whānau.