Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki

Collective Change Award – Hapū

In 2013, five hapū in the Ōtaki district were recognised for their commitment to collective change through uniting around their common dreams and aspirations for their whānau. Read their story.

When five hapū from the Ōtaki district faced the same issue around the consent of water use about a decade ago, they joined forces. They have never looked back. The hapū – Ngāti Korokī, Ngāti Ōtaki, Ngāti Huia ki Katihiku, Ngāti Pare and Ngāti Kapu – formed Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki. They created a shared kaupapa, “to enable whānau members and hapū in Ōtaki the opportunity to work together to realise their dreams and aspirations for building whānau capacity”. They recently set themselves up under the umbrella of Te Rūnangā o Raukawa so that they can leverage off the rūnangā’s capacity and free themselves to get on with the work.

Weaving communities together

Perhaps most importantly, the five hapū have found a way to work together. “We weave together a lot of community-based people, using their strengths to benefit the community. We all wear a lot of hats. We have a common goal between all groups but each group can also be independent,” said Te Waari Carkeek from Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki. “It can be very parochial because we are a small community. It all goes back to the integrity of the leadership and our values. We found the E Tu Whānau values worked brilliantly for us.”

Self reliance

While Hapū o Ōtaki has limited resources and capacity, they do have land. They have representatives on local, regional and central government boards and committees, and they share a commitment to the future and to the sustainability of the land and rivers. They are also involved in economic development focusing on sustainable housing and alternative energy sources. They made a decision to have few contracts with government, preferring to remain as independent as possible. This has driven a strategic approach that demands self reliance and ensures their sustainability.

Service provider

The other part of Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki’s strategy is that they act as a conduit, often providing support instead of delivering actual services. They collaborate with other organisations or sanction the work of others in the district. They utilise the strengths of others, as well as their own, to provide support and services to the communities they serve. At a practical level this means they work with Social Workers in Schools, the Ōtaki social worker, an alcohol and drugs programme for rangātahi, and the Ōtaki Medical Centre. They run regular classes on karangā and whaikōrero, plus they provide monthly blood pressure clinics. And they maintain and oversee the Raukawa Marae. They also provide free training to hapū members in results-based accountability, project management, the environment and strategic planning, and are pleased with the very positive outcomes for hapū members.

Realising dreams

The five hapū are creating “transformational change”. They describe the process as a shift in thinking hardware that allows an individual, a whānau and a hapū to realise their dreams and aspirations. They believe that in order to create the long-term change they seek, they need to work with people’s beliefs and understanding of the world they live in.

Knowing your whakapapa

To help with this they have adopted a technique know as self leadership training (also known as neuro-semantics) that has changed the way they work. Underpinning everything is a commitment to knowing their whakapapa. They have historical ties to Ngāti Whātua and have reactivated those links to help hapū members understand who they are and where they come from. They now have regular exchanges with Ngāti Whātua and hold very popular whakapapa hui every Sunday.

Investing in rangatahi

Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki sees their greatest investment as their rangātahi. “Better results for our kids mean better results for our community,” said Te Waari Carkeek.