Organised by Te Pae Herenga o Tāmaki collective, the impact last year on the community through the variety of ideas funded by Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency was excellent. And so the collective ran its second iteration PitchLocal 19.

Head of Strategy and Innovation at Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust (West Auckland) Jacqui Harema said the contest taps into their community worker’s wealth of knowledge and experience.

“We wanted to acknowledge those who work in the community and who are immersed in it every day and have great ideas. Delivering within a contract can be quite restrictive. We asked them in their experience what are gaps in the community and what would a programme look like if those who work in the community could design the programme.”

Those nurses and social workers among others were then guided through the funding application process and had to do identify gaps they saw in the community, do an impact assessment plan, and itemize all the things they would need for their programmes to work.

The pitches were pitched at a Dragon Den style – although only empowering responses only – to the judges Stacey and Scotty Morrison, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Kiri Tamihere–Waititi who is a clinical psychologist and also works with Whanau Ora.

One of the successful bids was led by Alisha Tamepo-Pehi who is a registered nurse at Te Whānau o Waipareira and team leader for Child Health Services.

She pitched her Tikanga Maori focussed Young Parents Antenatal Support Antenatal wananga for hapu mums aged 14 – 24 years old in West Auckland.

“It was nerve wracking! I really had to step out of my comfort zone.”

The evening where whanau and friends of the 16 people making the pitches were also in the audience was a huge success, said Jacqui.

Another of those making a pitch was Attendance Adviser for the North Shore and Rodney District in Whanau and school support services Johny Wihongi alongside her colleague Marama Wilson.

The pair developed the idea of Kuraoke a karaoke programme for those young people at risk of increased non-attendance of school where students will sing karaoke and compete in a final competition.

“My passions are helping our rangatahi and singing karaoke. For our pitch we came out on stage and started singing Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. As soon as we began singing “…Woke up this morning …” the whole crowd joined in without me having to say anything,” said Johny.

Alisha was inspired to pitch her project by her whanau.

“My own daughters were the inspiration – my 21 year old and my 18 year old both had babies last year – and their only support was us their whanau. They both tried mainstream antenatal classes once and it wasn’t for them. They said to me “why isn’t their anything around Māori?” And “Why isn’t there anything for young people?”

“Not every mum has a partner, and many of the mums at the mainstream antenatal classes have partners and are older. Some of our young ones don’t feel comfortable asking questions in those spaces.”

The project aims to provide young mums and whanau with the skills and knowledge of pregnancy through to birth and caring for a baby in the first year of life.

“The course we got funding for will be made up of three one day wananga and a wananga and graduation where whanau will be invited to share in what the women have learnt. The women will have learnt their pepeha during the course and they will say their pepeha as well as present in groups of two and three on what they learnt on the course. That way we can evaluate what worked and what didn’t.”

Nutritional experts will talk with the mums, and a Waipareira nurse and a Plunket nurse will discuss subjects like breastfeeding, healthy kai for bub, you and your whanau, safe sleeping and self-care.

“Another part of the course will be a wahakura workshop. Where the mums will learn how to weave harakeke and make a sleeping pod for their pēpi, and then have them blessed by a kaumatua.

“I wanted to make it hands on not something where the hapu mums are sitting and being lectured to. It is the first time I’ve pitched for funding which was nerve-wracking. We were supported throughout the application process and had to itemize all the things we needed and what our aims and outcomes we wanted to happen.”

Johny’s pitch KURAOKE addresses the lack of free programmes in the West Auckland area that appeal to rangatahi.

“It’s a combination of the need for more programmes that are free, our passion for singing and karaoke woven as one. KURAOKE provides a free 10-week programme for rangatahi attending school in West Auckland and a one off event called KURAOKE FINALE where 10 chosen rangatahi from all schools participating showcase their progress and songs through karaoke. I know how singing makes people feel good. I’d never applied for funding before and it was nerve-wracking. Actually presenting our two-minute pitch was easy after the application process.”

All of the pitches made on the night were granted funding with some to get further funding as the judges were so impressed by the ideas.

The other successful pitches were: a youth driving mentoring programme; Transforming lives through fitness, Creation of a self-help kiosk, Vidjourn” training tool for nursing and social worker practitioners, ‘Rise and roar’ women’s empowerment programme, Evolution of a foodbank, Care package operation supplying whānau leaving prison, and a Hangi enterprise.

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