Mariana and her father, Fred Vercoe, at a community wānanga.
Healthy Families Rotorua has facilitated engagement with local iwi to ensure a new Council strategy has a strong cultural foundation.
Systems innovator, Mariana Vercoe, has been involved in a collaboration with Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC) and other key stakeholders to provide a Māori insight on the city’s Play, Active Recreation & Sport Strategy, and an open space policy.
Mariana says her role has been to ensure the Māori voice is heard by creating opportunities for iwi, hapū and marae to have their say.
“We’ve just completed a series of wānanga and community hui at local marae, as well as a survey, to gather insights on what the strategy should look like. Part of that engagement involved looking back on how the play, sport, and active recreation space looked in the past, and what the current barriers are.
“Common themes from feedback included the need for safe and accessible open spaces for kaumātua, kids, and people with disabilities; along with a cost-effective sports hub with indoor facilities which caters to all sports and spaces for recovery, as well as pools and hydroslides.
“Traditional Māori play was a significant component of the past reflections, with participants recognising these activities were purposeful and incorporated the natural environment. So, while the strategy’s still in its early stages, the wānanga have highlighted the importance of enabling traditional play for the whole whānau in both nature and urban settings,” says Mariana.
Mariana says engagement for the Play, Active Recreation & Sport Strategy has parallels with Healthy Families New Zealand’s approach to addressing equitable outcomes.
“By engaging with communities to understand the challenges around Play, we’ve been able to capture the voices of tamariki, rangatahi, whānau, and key organisations. The strategy is for the whole of Rotorua, so sports organisations, community groups, kohanga reo, early childhood centres, and other stakeholders have been involved for collective impact,” she says.
Rotorua Lakes Council’s Play, Active Recreation & Sport Strategy is currently in its draft phase and will be released in October. The final document is expected to be completed early next year.