Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust – E Tū Whānau Ann Dysart Kahukura Award finalist

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. 

Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust has been delivering health and social services to whānau in the tightknit, low-income Whangārei suburb of Otangarei for over thirty years. In that time, guided by a kaupapa that prioritises the restoration of community and whānau values, the primacy of whakapapa, and connection to their urban whenua, they’ve developed a wide range of services and programmes.

The Trust was originally set up by community residents, Janine and Martin Kaipo and their kaumātua Ben Wihongi-Matthews. Having found their own way out of welfare dependency, the trio began establishing micro enterprises and support services which, according to their own experiences, were missing in their community.  

They started by organising events and running sports and recreation programmes for local tamariki and taitamariki out of the Kaipo whānau garage and then onto the top field in Otangarei Sports Park. Today, Janine and Martin remain at the helm of the Trust as members of the senior management team. Along with their fifty-strong staff of health, social and community kaimahi, they run a multifaceted organisation that supports whānau in Otangarei and further afield in the wider Northland rohe. Most of the kaimahi are connected by whakapapa, marriage and friendship to the whānau they serve.

Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust offers diverse wrap-around supports

Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust has its own Māori nurse-led Hauora Clinic as well as a support programme for whānau with lived-experiences of drug and alcohol and mental health issues who want to use their experience to help others. It provides emergency support for whānau who are experiencing harm alongside whānau wellbeing and child-focused social services. Its approach to family violence prevention is credited with helping to lower the rate of police call outs for reports of family violence.

Kaimahi from Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust at a recent E Tū Otangarei event
Kaimahi from Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust at a recent E Tū Otangarei event

Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust offers financial mentoring and supports to whānau to manage their finances.  The Trust also runs a two-phase programme for whānau seeking employment.  Phase one prepares whānau for work readiness and phase two helps them find gainful employment.

The Trust even has its own urban regeneration programme. This truly innovative and exciting strategy aims to reinstate the traditional structure of community by supporting and growing social kinships and economic wealth. Their transitional housing project, Otangarei Papakāinga, is three years into its development. Each whare provides shelter, care, and a sense of stability to help whānau progress into a more permanent housing solution.

Their very popular bi-annual community days, with the emphasis on sporting and fun events for tamariki and taitamariki, highlight the positivity and whanaungatanga within the Otangarei community.

Whanaungatanga throughout  

Kaiārahi within the organisation build strong, ongoing relationships with whānau so that they understand, and swiftly address their needs. They do this by accessing a combination of services from within their organisation and, when appropriate, from other hapū and whānau groups or local services and organisations. 

If, for example, someone comes into contact with the Trust through one of its services or partner agencies and is identified as needing budgeting advice, they’ll be offered kanohi ki te kanohi or Zoom sessions, places on weekly workshops discussing the pressures of consumerism or introductions to specialists who can give them further support.

Over three decades Te Hau Āwhiowhio ō Otangarei Trust and their talented, whānau-focused kaimahi have built an inspirational organisation with a nimble, service delivery model that continues to respond creatively to the needs of a community with a proud and distinctive identity of its own.  

Te piki ō te ora, tērā te tupu ō te rākau.

With improved wellbeing, the tree will grow.

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