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.
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.”