Whanau Ora: Jay Hepi and Mathias Pitama

The 2019 Whānau Ora Symposium, held by Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu, showcased the collective strength and capability of whānau to achieve better outcomes in areas such as health, education, housing, employment and income levels. As a proud sponsor of the symposium, Rātā Foundation spoke to some of the organisers and speakers during the three-day event.

Each day, Jay Hepi and Mathias Pitama work to inspire and influence young Māori trade workers.

The pair founded He Toki, a programme which aims to grow the Māori workforce and celebrate culture through work.

“We like to employ kaimahi (workers) and we sub them out to contractors to put them into the appropriate job to get their qualifications.” Mr Pitama said.

“Outcomes can be measured through  the progression of an apprenticeship – we have guys that are halfway through their apprenticeship, and they’ve been able to see that they’ve hit those targets in the right timeframe.”

“The key part of mentoring is trying to influence. We influence our kaimahi to be able to go to mahi, to get through their day, to get through their studies… it’s just the simple day-to-day things.” Mr Hepi added.

“It’s all about the life experience  we are able to offer to our kaimahi.”

Mr Hepi said it was not only important to inspire young people, but to be inspired by them.

 “You sit here, in your 40s, and you aspire to be someone… listening to rangitahi (the younger generation), I realised you don’t have to aspire to be someone who is older than you, you can aspire to be someone you are influenced by.”