Porou Ariki Kāhui Ako prove resilience comes in many forms

Issue: Volume 103, Number 3

Posted: 13 March 2024
Reference #: 1HAfXR

A year on from cyclones Hale and Gabrielle hitting the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti regions, Porou Ariki Kāhui Ako share one way they have encouraged each other to be brave and steadfast with their Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui conference.

A wide variety of guests were in attendance on the day. Image by: Darryl Crawford.

A wide variety of guests were in attendance on the day. Image by: Darryl Crawford.

In the aftermath of natural disasters, communities often find themselves grappling with the physical and emotional aftermath, striving to rebuild and restore a sense of normality. 

Such is the case for the communities of Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti, following the devastating cyclones Hale and Gabrielle. 

As the regions approached the one-year mark since these catastrophic events, educators and community leaders came together for a conference aimed at fostering resilience and promoting healing.

A year of uncertainties 

The Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui conference was held on 20 October 2023 for the Porou Ariki Kāhui Ako.

Organised by the principals of the kāhui ako, Tolaga Bay Area School & Kahukuranui principal Nori Parata highlights its purpose – to offer teachers the chance to hear from inspiring speakers. 

“We’ve had a lot of staff that were stuck behind huge slips that have only just been fixed. The conference was also about providing an opportunity for them to be able to re-engage with their colleagues and be at ease,” explains Nori. 

“Trying to manage schools where your staffing is up and down on a daily basis, where the weather events mean that certain members of your staff had to leave school early because you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to get them home otherwise, things like that. It’s been a year of that.” 

Nori says there was lots of talk after Cyclone Gabrielle about the resilience of communities.

“But the level of resilience needed in that situation was starting to wear thin. We were looking for an opportunity to help lift that and contribute to some positive mental health and wellbeing.” 

Te Karaka Area School sharing a waiata. Image by: Darryl Crawford.

Te Karaka Area School sharing a waiata. Image by: Darryl Crawford.

A powerful pick me up

The theme of the conference, “Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui (Be Brave, Be Steadfast)”, reflects the importance of resilience in facing adversity – a message that resonates deeply with attendees. 

“We were looking to give teachers the chance to have a professional learning opportunity where they could listen to inspiring speakers to help lift the weight that was sort of hanging over us all,” explains Nori.

The conference featured a diverse lineup of speakers who shared a passion for the kāhui ako.

The Porou Ariki Kāhui Ako is named for the eponymous ancestor of Ngāti Porou and so they tried to look for Ngāti Porou speakers where possible, but also invited speakers from Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki and Ngāti Tūwharetoa. 

They each shared their personal journeys of resilience and triumph over adversity. 

The stories shared were both moving and inspiring; from members of Te Karaka community recounting their harrowing experiences during the cyclones, to Kya Hurihanganui-Thornicroft, the then Gisborne Girls’ High School head girl overcoming health challenges, and educator Sam Hughes supporting ākonga to achieve new heights in challenging times.

Moana Maniapoto, a renowned public speaker, musician, and within all her work, a strong advocate for Māori rights, reflected on her involvement in movements seeking recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the promotion of te reo Māori.  Her insights into the struggles and triumphs of these movements provided valuable perspective on resilience in the face of systemic challenges.

Similarly, there were stories shared by pharmacists Kevin Pewhirangi (Ngāti Porou) and Kasey Brown (Tagata Sāmoa), who overcame obstacles to become pharmacists and establish their own pharmacy, and Annette and Tapeta Wehi, kapa haka exponents, which served as a testament to perseverance and determination in pursuing one’s dreams. 

Di Akurangi also came to share her extremely moving story about her recent health struggles that left attendees in tears and reminded them how resilient we can be even in the most frightening circumstances.

An appreciated opportunity

The conference served as more than just a platform for sharing stories; it was a gathering of minds committed to rebuilding and supporting one another. 

The audience of kaiako passionately engaged with the day. Image by: Darryl Crawford.

The audience of kaiako passionately engaged with the day. Image by: Darryl Crawford.

Attendees, comprising teachers and principals from the Porou Ariki Kāhui Ako, found solace in reconnecting with colleagues and reaffirming their commitment to the wellbeing of their ākonga.

Despite the ongoing challenges faced by the region, including ongoing home repairs and infrastructure restoration, there is a sense of resilience and determination pervading the community. 

Nori tells us ākonga, too, have demonstrated remarkable resilience, saying: “What was uplifting was as soon as schools were able to operate, those that could return, did return. That in itself was cathartic.”

As the region continues its journey toward recovery, events like the Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui conference serve as beacons of hope, reminding us of the power of community, solidarity, and resilience. 

In reflecting on the conference, Nori expressed gratitude for the opportunity to bring educators together and the positive feedback received from participants.

“We had about 150 people from our kāhui ako, and they absolutely appreciated the opportunity to listen to a set of compelling speakers who knew their topics well, and that they could relate to. 

“It did provide a pick me up, which is what we were aiming to do.” 

Courage, capability and resilience

Courage, capability and resilience

Courage, capability and resilience

Exactly one year ago, in Volume 102 | Issue 3, we gathered on-the-ground stories and photos from those impacted by severe weather events in much of the North Island – particularly on the East Coast. 

Revisit the article "Communities rally on the East Coast" to step back in time to the events that inspired the Kia Māia, Kia Manawanui conference. 

Communities rally on the East Coast(external link)


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 12:31 pm, 13 March 2024

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