Gina Giordani - Programme lead for Nōku Te Ao: Like Minds Social Movement

We talk about navigation a lot with our lived experience communities – when we say we are all on a journey or we are journeying towards something.
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Gina Giordani - Programme lead for Nōku Te Ao: Like Minds Social Movement

I have been really conscious this year of the concept of ‘navigation’.   We talk about navigation a lot with our lived experience communities – when we say we are all on a journey or we are journeying towards something.  We talk about navigation with our whānau Māori communities and our Pasifika communities, whose ancestors journeyed to Aotearoa and in the Pacific on waka, utilising ngā whetu (the stars).  In my work, I enjoy the process of using mātauranga and frameworks to guide my projects. This year I have been working with Te Pae Māhutonga, which the Public Health Association credits to Dr Maui Pomare but has since been updated for use in this century by Tā Mason Durie.

I work on a programme called the Nōku te Ao: Like Minds Social Movement, which is about uplifting the mana and human rights of people with lived experience of mental distress. A year ago, I was tasked with the formation and creation of this newly contracted programme. Hāpai Te Hauora and Ngā Hau e Whā (lived experience advisory roopu) are partnered with  Mental Health Foundation on this kaupapa.  I am using a number of tīkanga frameworks to help me on the journey of creating this movement. Below, I will outline how Te Pae Māhutonga guides my work.  Te Pae Māhutonga (translating to the Southern Cross Constellation) is a health promotion model made up of 6 guiding stars.   Here are ngā whetu (the stars) and my interpretation of them in my work: 


Gina Giordani - Programme lead for Nōku Te Ao: Like Minds Social Movement
Mental Health Foundation

Mauri Ora: Cultural Identity  

In the creation of this social movement work, we give space to our people to talk about who they are and where they come from. We also work to observe the tīkanga of the communities we journey with and honour any cultural practices that assist in the running of the community meetings.

Te Oranga: Participation in Society  

We have a need to ensure that people are able to participate in our activities in a range of ways, and we think intentionally about barriers to access that we might be able to dismantle to increase participation in society more generally.  

Waiora: Physical Environment  

I think about this star in two different ways in our work. One is Papātuanuku, ensuring that any resources we create are sustainable and work in ways that are respectful of the whenua. But also, I think about waiora in terms of the environment I want to create that enable our communities’ rights to be upheld. I often tag this star to any work I’m doing on creating infrastructure that enables the work to happen.  

Toiora: Healthy Lifestyles 

This star is what I think of as having the big link to health promotion. How are we elevating and promoting our messages to enable the healthy lifestyles we all deserve to enjoy? I often tag this star to any of the social marketing work we do as this carries the messages out into the world.  

As for the pointer stars in the constellation:  

Ngā Manukura: Leadership  

In our programme, we want our communities to be the leaders in this work. We don’t have all the answers to assist our people. The answers lie in the community and we need to act in a way that draws this important knowledge out.  

Te Mana Whakahaere: Autonomy  

Autonomy (Mana Motuhake and Tino Rangatiratanga) are important cornerstones of working with our communities. The Ottawa Charter emphasises the word  ’enable’; this is what we wish to do, to enable our communties to lead themselves. We are only here to resource and push this goal along.  

In practical terms, how are we being guided by ngā whetu?  

When I am project managing tasks for the Social Movement, I will tag them with a star:  

- Community kōrero about human rights (Te Oranga, Te Mana Whakahaere)

- Ensure there is a tīkanga process for this meeting (Mauri Ora)

- Recruit local community facilitator for this meeting (Te Mana Whakahaere, Ngā Manukura)

- Create social media tiles about upcoming Zoom series (Toi Ora, Te Oranga)


I can also pull out a chart from my project management software those shows how much I am being guided by each of the stars. This can help me to understand if I need to pay attention to some of the other areas I’m not touching on as much.

Mental Health Foundation

There is a lot of wisdom (mātauranga) held within Te Ao Māori that speaks to our relationship with the stars. Matariki has brought this into focus for many New Zealanders. We are learning about the Maramataka and the work of Rangi Mataamua more commonly now and I hope we can all be a little more guided by the whetu in our work.


About Gina

Ko Georgina Giordani (Gina) tōku ingoa. He uri au nō Ngāti Porou ki Tokomaru, me Kotirana me Ingarani. Nō Tāmaki Makaurau ahau inaianei. 

Gina is a senior health promoter and the Mental Health Foundation programme lead for Nōku Te Ao: Like Minds Social Movement, a community movement that uplifts the mana and human rights of people with lived experience of mental distress or illness.

Reference  

Durie, Mason (1999), ‘Te Pae Māhutonga: a model for Māori health promotion’, Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Newsletter 49.