Whanau Ora: Ruth Jones

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.

Advocating for disabled whānau is something Ruth Jones is passionate about.

Hei Whakapiki Mauri, established by Ms Jones and her husband Gary Williams, helps disabled Māori people access services in their community.

She said the Whānau Ora initiative gave disabled Māori the confidence and knowledge to be ‘Māori first’.

“Some of our whānau need help with housing or with Work and Income, but also with Ngāi Tahu or other iwi that people want to connect to,” she said.

“I think it’s just whānau feeling okay to be who they are.”

Ms Jones and Mr Williams, who is also disabled, established Hei Whakapiki Mauri after noticing a need for more Māori-focused services for disabled people.

“We sat down at our kitchen table and thought ‘what do people need?’” she said.

“Gary and I have a good life, but that takes a lot of hard work, so we thought ‘what are the supports we can give people to also have a good life?’”

Hei Whakapiki Mauri is free to join for disabled people, their whānau and support workers.