More than 200 kaumātua from around the country are gathered in Rotorua this week to talk about what is important to them and look at solutions to problems they are facing. Zizi Sparks was there.
Finding solutions in collaboration. That was the reason more than 200 kaumātua from around the country gathered in Rotorua this week.
The National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference is being held this week from Tuesday to Thursday.
Rauawaawa Kaumātua Trust chief executive Rangimahora Reddy said the event attracted kaumātua from as far away as Kaitaia.
"This is about empowering kaumātua to find solutions to the challenges they face and often the ones who will solve the problems are the ones with lived experience."
Reddy said the conference focused on housing, hauora (health) and wellbeing.
"There is a growing number of kaumātua facing homelessness. There are a number of things that contribute to that; limited income, lack of social housing and increasing market rent."
MP Nanaia Mahuta, whose portfolios include Māori Development and housing, was the first keynote speaker at the conference at Waiteti Marae.
Mahuta said when issues related to kaumātua were discussed the theme was always whānau wellbeing.
"There is no separation between the wellbeing of children, kaumātua and whānau."
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Mahuta said she wanted to ensure papakāinga housing was expanded and the Government supported initiatives for kaumātua to upgrade their homes.
"I met one kaumātua ... We provided access to resources to help him do essential repairs to keep his house warm and his mokopuna healthy and made sure the whare became an asset for the next generation."
Mahuta talked about ensuring housing assets provided security for families.
"We need action ... We can't have children doing homework in cars," she said.
"I believe if we have more secure housing for our whānau and kids are not transient they can learn the importance of what equity in a house can help unleash.
"Housing alongside education and good health are the pillars of a strong society."
The next two days of the conference will be at Waiteti Marae and Novotel and feature workshops as well as keynote speakers like Rotorua councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Te Ururoa Flavell from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and a Ministry of Health representative.
Reddy said the conference took a strength-based approach to find solutions and she was looking forward to finding out what kaumātua thought would be easy to change to make their lives better.
"A lot of it is about showcasing the good stuff going on in different regions," Reddy said.
"We see the struggles and their resilience but the problem is resilience gets worn down over a period ... It's important we act now and make sure New Zealand is prepared for a growing older sector.
"The struggle is real and the solution needs to be found. Quite often it lies in the minds of those that live it."