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Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in Education, Employment, Social |

Our Tech Hub solution is taking off

Critical to completing some of Ruapehu Whānau Transformation [RWT] team’s current projects, as well as launching several more, the planned technology hub has now found a home.

Project Manager Erena Mikaere-Most is delighted Ruapehu College has agreed to allow the old senior block to be leased from the Ministry of Education allowing the green light to be given to one of the RWT Plan’s most ambitious solutions.

Spatial design work has just begun on transforming the five classrooms, a big common room and associated amenities into a self-funding one-stop technological learning centre and conference facility.

“We’re planning to cater for the needs of the wider community whether you are 100-years-old or four years old.

“The technology labs will be running Computer Science programmes so students can safely learn how to use computers and the internet as well programming, using robots and game and mobile app development.

“There will also be an ‘inventing space – a Fab Lab.

“We are planning for rotating professional development workshops where we’re working alongside local businesses to tailor training packages to help up-skill staff.”

A designated learning centre with support staff is also planned to help those engaged with any extramural studies.

“The Hub will also have facilities for hire, we have to be self supporting and financially viable so we have a number of hot desks for business who come into the area along with meeting and training areas for hire and a conference facility all that are running off a high-speed fibre connection.”

Planning to be open later this year, Ms Mikaere-Most said the Hub would work with whānau and families to connect them with whatever digital learning requirements they have.

“We are also exploring a programme where once a month we would get in a new piece of tech, for example like Google glasses, that people can have a tutu (play) with.

“The reality is no matter what vocation or jobs kids of today are going in to they need to have an understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Whether they are on the farm, driving a vehicle, sitting at a computer desk or running their own business, research has found technology is a real lever for success and where used effectively, educational achievement exponentially improves.”

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Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in Health, Housing |

WoFs for 50 more houses

A comprehensive housing audit was just one of the 23 solutions proposed by the Ruapehu Whānau Transformation [RWT] team two years ago.

Just completed, of the 101 homes surveyed, 38 percent didn’t have any form of insulation, 76 percent used a wood burner as the main source of heating but of these 15 percent of families struggled with affording wood and having adequate dry storage available.

In gaining funding for audit, RWT Project Manager Erena Mikaere-Most also secured funds to trial a building Warrant of Fitness [WoF] check on ten properties.

Helped by Ruapehu District Council building inspector Bryan Jacobsen, Ruapehu Fire Safety Officer John ‘Luigi’ Hotter and electrician father-in-law, Lou Most the check was such a success it’s now being offered to another 50 families.

“The main thing the survey and test warrants affirmed for us is we need to work on having warm houses,” Ms Mikaere-Most said.

“We thought we had an idea of what was going on but I think some of the conditions were worse than we expected.

“In one of the houses surveyed, they had to move out because it was too unsafe, the survey had to be completed outside of the house”

“I think it was the family home and there were a lot of memories, the family didn’t want to demolish it and didn’t want to move.”

As well as looking at the safety and warmth of properties in Raetihi, Ohākune, and Waiouru, residents were also asked what they thought of their houses.

“One person said they, ‘love the house leaks and all’, another, ‘it’s a roof over our heads, not flash but it’s a house’.

“Interestingly one of the most provocative themes was that people wanted their children to have pride in the homes they live in.

“The biggest aspiration for most was to own their home.”

In a response to the need for adequate heating, cost is perceived as one of the major barriers.

During her research, Ms Mikaere-Most has found a few iwi funding initiatives including two being run by Atihau Whanganui Incorporation and Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

“The Atihau insulation programme has been here for a little while and not that many whānau know about it, it’s totally free, 100 percent subsidized, where as sole government schemes are only part subsidised.

“Having completed the trial and the survey, we are now rolling out WoF checks to 50 houses around the region.”

Proposed solutions are designed to create safer, healthier homes, implement heating and insulation upgrades, increase education around the associated benefits and more cost-effective house habits, as well as support whānau address barriers to home ownership.

Solo mother Moana Te Kura’s life has changed for the better since having a WoF and RWT housing audit done as part of the initial roll out.

While aware heating with oil column heaters was never ideal, full time work all while caring for three, and at times four, children left little time to explore other alternatives.

“It took a lot of convincing for me, here you just learn to adapt.

“I didn’t really want a heat pump and the first thing was how are we going to pay for that?

Funding was sponsored in part by in kind from a Raetihi based community organisation and through the RWT WoF trial project.

“It’s a joy to come home to a warm house, it’s nice to wake up warmer and there is no more waking up and putting on 100 layers of clothing.

“Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, to know we are safe has made life easier.”

The RWT house WoF audit also identified a couple of unsafe plug sockets as well as a light fitting at the property which have also been fixed under the programme.

The next step is to begin retro-fitting insulation and are awaiting to hear back from a heating grant application.

A full findings report on the RWT housing audit will be available on the website: in the next couple of weeks.


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Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in Education, Employment, Housing, Social |

Two years on, going strong

Two years on, going strong

Ruapehu Whānau Transformation Plan author and Project Manager Erena Mikaere-Most enjoying one of the benefits of moving back to the Ruapehu with her tamariki Piatarena and Te Amoria Most.

Photo supplied


Two years after it’s launch, the implementation phase of the Ruapehu Whānau Transformation Plan [RWT] continues to produce sustainable change for the communities of Raetihi, Ohākune and Waiouru.

In July 2013, 23 solutions were proposed to improve wellbeing around the region under a Ngāti Rangi led initiative.

Charged with writing and implementing the Plan, as Project Manager Erena Mikaere-Most returned home with her husband Glenn Most and their young family to lead the charge for change.

“This is where my girls are from, where their father is from, it’s their tūrangawaewae, I wanted to try and contribute to a thriving community, a fantastic place for them now, and in the future.

“They are growing up here and they may want to stay, I thought through RWT I could really help contribute.

“In a small population, if we want the iwi to thrive the community needs to, to effect real change our focus has to be about the whole region thriving, everybody.”

In 2011 a Ngāti Rangi led Rangatakapu hui discussed the health and well-being of the area, that inspired a research mission into the region’s statistics.

Lead by statistician, project manager and managing director of consulting firm Development by Design, Kirikowhai Mikaere, her spouse Ernst & Young partner Selwyn Hayes and local iwi leader Che Wilson, the group sent 19 Official Information Act requests to 13 different Ministers.

After breaking down the numbers and with the help of a Reference Group made up from a broad cross-section of the community, 23 initiatives were identified as foundation projects that could help bring about positive change to the region.

“The Reference Group are integral, most of them have been here a long time and give a lot of input to the project, they sometimes turn the solutions into action more than we do, Ms Mikaere-Most said.

“When I’m talking to people from outside the area about our mahi, they are surprised at just how many projects we are doing and that the Plan isn’t just for Māori, that it’s for everyone in the region.

“It’s rare for an iwi to lead such a broad project, with multiple focus areas being implemented at the same time, and involving the wider community, including all whānau and all families. RWT has opened the door not just for self help but also greater agency assistance.”

Having recognised the dire need for change, Ms Mikaere-Most is constantly inspired to continue her mahi by the people who are benefiting from her team’s work.

“When we got to the end of the year after the first careers expo we were able to count 38 new employment outcomes, we knew most of those people weren’t already in jobs, and some of those jobs were newly created.

“This was new income for families and the local economy and seeing some of those people they were a lot happier, I guess from having less worry, as well as being out-and-about more in their community.

“A solo mum with three kids sent me a message thanking me because her house is now warm and safe.

“A big part of the solutions are about education, life skills, it’s about lifting our expectations, the housing audit is a really good example.

“It’s very humbling ”

Sitting in a temporary RWT office in the soon to be launched Technology Hub housed in the old senior block of Ruapehu College the tedious task of making yet another funding application is made a little easier as Ms Mikaere-Most continues on the mission for transformation.

“I think people thought this wasn’t going to work, yet we are now seeing a real difference.

“Strategies are normally simply dust collectors on the shelf, but eight of our proposed solutions are already complete, twelve more are well underway and we are on schedule for full completion of the 23 solutions within the next two years.

“The foundations are being laid for a sustainably positive future for all our communities.”

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