This is why the whānau of Omaka Marae developed an innovative strategic vision for their marae ‘Pā Ora, Pā Wānanga’, which focuses on Whānau Ora by developing their marae into a centre of cultural excellence, a kaupapa Māori learning village. The iwi associated with Omaka Marae include Rangitāne, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō and Ngāti Kuia.
To help realise this vision, Te Pūtahitanga o te Waipounamu, the South Island Whānau Ora commissioning agency, has funded a four-pronged programme of activity which builds on the success of all the other marae initiatives:
- Pā Kids, a marae-based after school programme which focuses on cultural identity and te reo Māori for parents and their tamariki;
- the investigation of the establishment of a kura Māori on the marae;
- promoting kaupapa Māori healthy lifestyles through the establishment of a Whare Hakinakina; and
- the development of a range of Māori-inspired condiments which aim to generate income which will be reinvested into the marae and its activities.
Omaka Marae leaders have established this vision because they see the marae as a learning and living village. They hope that one day the legacy of their mahi will be that the marae will be an environment of seamless education for whānau with access to an early childhood facility, kura, whare hākinakina, māra kai and whare wānanga.
Omaka Marae manager Kiley Nēpia says, “We know that our whānau succeed as Māori when they are in a Māori environment, like at the marae, or at kapa haka, however for many of our whānau it is an extra-curricular activity.”
“We want to shift succeeding as Māori into the centre of everything we do; Pā Ora, Pā Wānanga is about Whānau Ora and rangatiratanga, about being bold enough to aspire for greatness,” he says.