Healthy Families Rotorua and Te Arawa Whānau Ora continue to move mountains this year – starting with a trek up Mauao.
The Piki Maunga crew began this year’s kaupapa with the Mount Maunganui hīkoi yesterday (20 February) in the spirit of workplace wellness.
Last year, our crew completed Mauao, Papamoa Hills, Ngā Tapuwae o Toi, Maunga Kakaramea, Tauhara, Te Ara Ahi, Whakarewarewa Forest, and Tongariro Crossing over the course of four months.
National strategic communications manager, Megan Lacey, says the hīkoi started as a form of exercise when the teams came out of the August/September lockdown. However, it evolved into both mental and physical therapy, as well as an awesome sense of achievement for all staff involved.
“Our Healthy Families and Whānau Ora workforce is split – we’re now operating from three separate buildings, while others work from home due to the current environment. So, these kinds of things keep our workforce united.
“Our hīkoi have become educational through karakia, breathing techniques, and maramataka observation. It’s also very holistic walking in the footsteps of our tūpuna and hearing stories about them.”
Megan says Healthy Families Rotorua aims to unleash transformational leadership to make changes to the system, which influences health and wellbeing of families and communities.
“Our online maramataka symposium, Te Hekenga-ā-Rongo, showcased evidence from around the world, which identified the environment as the key component to our wellbeing. One of our keynote speakers conceded that if our tūpuna looked at the way we train today and saw us walking on treadmills, they’d think we’re crazy.
“Our tūpuna climbed maunga to reach the top to be closer to the atua. Not only did they witness beautiful views and horizons, but the peak was a significant location for tūāhu (a place to cite karakia and other rituals). Physical activity and getting into shape were a by-product, so it was essentially exercising with a purpose.”
Megan says the Piki Maunga kaupapa adopts this approach.
“All our maunga have a story, pūrākau and whakapapa. It’s about going to these places of significance, learning about them, while climbing and connecting with the environment.
“This impacts not only our physical health, but our spiritual and mental, in our efforts to reach the top. We’re keen to activate leadership in this space to reinforce our maunga as a health promoting environment, while connecting us back to our identity,” she says.