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Wai Warriors: Guardians of Waiariki

Healthy Families Rotorua and Te Arawa Whanau Ora Collective Impact Team are collaborating on the ‘Wai Warriors initiative which focuses on co-designing activites with rangatahi (13 – 17 years).

The intention of Wai Warriors is to support rangatahi to co-design activities that build leadership in all capacities and ultimately, guardianship of water.

The initiative will enable local young people to effect change in the following settings:

  • Identifying kaupapa Maori practices relative to Te Arawa and water – Wai-Maori;
  • Matauranga Maori and Science on the water – Wai-Ariki;
  • Healthy and safe activites on the water – Wai-Ora;
  • Applying traditional systems and practices on the water – Wai – Kawa/Tikanga;
  • Connecting traditional system and practices on water, with land and celestial beings (sun moon, stars, and flora/fauna)

Wai Warriors will result in a strengthened intervention system that will eventually become an integrated preventative system.

This initiative will be looking to partner and collaborate with local hapu (extended families) and iwi (tribes), current guardians and trusts charged with kaitiaki roles caring for water ways, lakes and rivers, marae, kura and schools, and government agencies such as Department of Conservation, Regional Council and the Te Arawa Whanau Ora Collective.  A close relationship will be forged with Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Rotorua Lakes Council and Toi Ohomai to support the intitiative with a view to ensuring the success of recruiting young people by the end of this year.

Healthy Families Rotorua has also supported the integration of Maramataka into the initiative as a planning tool for the team. Maramataka will also provide guidance to achieving successful environmental reconnection and sustainability through iwi relationships with land and sea.

Maramataka is the Māori lunar calendar, which is a guide for reading the various phases of the moon and its influence on the natural environment and therefore, all aspects of life. By understanding the Maramataka and living according to the natural rhythms and cycles of our environment, we can be more productive and successful in all aspects of life.

Wai Warriors will arm a generation with the skillset to make water and by extension, communities more livable.

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