Ngāti Kahu in the Far North has kicked off a 10-week health and wellbeing programme aimed at getting kaumātua and kuia fit and active following three long years of Covid-19 and seclusion.
The programme is not just courses on nutrition and exercise. Ruby-Anne Reihana is one of the organisers of the programme, and says, there are many different activities for kaumātua and kuia, from poi making to mau rākau, poi, and korowai making.
“A lot of our kaumātua, kuia are on their own. If you sit down and do nothing, then you die.”
The Far North was one area in Aotearoa that took the spread of Covid among the older generation extremely seriously. The Taitokerau Border Control was established, out of particular concern for kaumātua and kuia.
Te Ikanui Kīngi-Waiaua, who helps run the course along with Reihana, says for some, it’s been a long time since they have seen one another.
“During Covid, we were terrified that we would lose our elders. So, we put great emphasis on isolating them, so that our elders in Ngāti Kahu, in Muriwhenua, wouldn’t succumb to the disease.”
For the kaumātua and kuia, this was a time to return to the marae, following three years of not being able to visit. Kiri Ātama of Ngāti Kahu says the fact many marae have been closed over the Covid period made the idea of a health and well-being programme even more appealing for kaumātua and kuia.
“I tae mai ahau, nā te mea koinei te wā tuatahi i tīmata ai tēnei mahi i roto o ngā kaumātua me ngā kuia o Ngāti Kahu, hei whakakotahi i a mātou, he mahi whakawhanaungatanga i a mātou anō.”
I came because this is a first for our kaumātua and kuia, so that we could come together and to re-establish those relationships.