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Marae innovator named Maori Public Health Champion for 2015

Marae innovator named Maori Public Health Champion for 2015
September 10, 2015

Valerie Teraitua, Manager of Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae in Mangere, Auckland, has been named Maori Public Health Champion, Tu Rangatira mo te Ora for 2015, at the Public Health Association’s Annual Conference in Dunedin this week.

The annual award recognises outstanding achievement and leadership in Maori public health.

Suaree Borell from the Maori nutrition programme Toi Ora, who nominated Teraitua explained “we nominated Valerie for the award because of the work she has done to support the development of leadership skills among Maori young people over the last 15 years.

“She has approached this task innovatively, working with an holistic model of wellbeing, and using the marae garden as a place of learning for rangatahi (young Maori). These rangatahi have been nurtured and supported by Valerie to undertake leadership roles including whaikorero, and also participate in research projects focused on injury prevention, alcohol and healthy kai (food).”

Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae has recently been verified and validated as an organic garden and workplace by Te Waka Kai Ora, Maori Organics Aotearoa.

Teraitua explains “this has been a five year journey ... of learning and implementing the principles of Maori organic growing (Huaparakore). Food is medicine and medicine is food.

“Eating healthy, organically-grown kai, and incorporating fitness into the daily routine of our families have been two of the most important aspects of our work.”

Teraitua adds that around 100 Maori from the local area attend fitness programmes at the marae every day and the results have been transformational.

She explains “we believe that happy mums equals happy children. One of our groups has lost a total of 200 kilos. The wahine say they have more energy, more confidence and more self-esteem. They report that they are also more organised with their children.”

Reflecting on being Tu Rangatira mo te Ora, Teraitua said she was ”blown away”, stating “I am motivated by my own whanau; that is my inspiration for this work. My tamariki, whanau, mokopuna, I’ve always been passionate about people.

“I am delighted to receive the award which has made me reflect on the progress and impact of my work.”

Borell conclude “Valerie’s support and commitment to Kai Maori Kai Ora in all aspects of the marae are examples of a sustainable, grounded and connected community action.

“Papatuanuku Marae is a celebration of Maori leadership and vision, their legacy to grow future leaders across the board is a significant contribution to future Maori health gains.”

Image shows fitness programmes at Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae. (Image: Facebook)

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