A korero by Rahui Papa, written by Grant Berghan
During the time of the Steering Group led by Sir Mason Durie, a sub-group was appointed to consider and recommend appropriate Maori names for the two entities, Health New Zealand and the Maori Health Authority. The sub-group was comprised of Maori leaders from throughout the country – Moe Milne, Rahui Papa, Selwyn Parata, Rikirangi Gage, and Hana O’Regan. In considering the names, Sir Mason Durie urged the group to anchor their thinking in Te Ao Maori.
After a series of stimulating debates, it was clear that we were united on the stories of Tawhaki, that ancestor who binds all Maori in Aotearoa New Zealand. The challenge would be how to weave together a name for a large organisation like Health New Zealand, with that of a smaller organisation such as the Maori Health Authority. We needed to ensure the names were both distinct and yet complementary. So, we decided to look to the Tawhaki narratives for inspiration. The essence of our thinking was grounded in the wellness of people. Therefore, the names needed to reflect a unity in thinking and purpose and the synergy of effort and resources that is required to support the achievement of wellbeing for all New Zealanders. That is the thinking behind the naming of the two organisations.
So, it was the ancestor Tawhaki who in some of our histories ascended the heavens in search of the baskets of knowledge. After extensive discussion amongst the sub-group, the concept “whatu” was chosen leading to Te Whatu Ora, with its many interpretations including a stone, to show, to observe, to see, and it’s reference to the practice of weaving.’
Te Whatu Ora refers to the weaving together of many plaits to achieve wellness.
Meanwhile, Te Aka Whai Ora is a reference to the method of ascending the twelve heavens to reach the baskets of knowledge. Tawhaki had received instructions from his grandmother to adhere to the main line (the centre) as he climbed the different heavens. He did this and was successful in attaining the three baskets of knowledge. The intimation is that we should stay centred in all that we do if we are to be successful in achieving the wellbeing of all people.
And so it is that the group decided to adhere to the korero of Tawhaki, for his retrieval of the Whatu and his adherence to the main line.