Mātauranga Māori provides us with ways to support whānau to heal and overcome trauma, especially if they’re finding things tough. It's about what legacy whānau want to leave for their tamariki and mokopuna.
How do we support whānau who are doing it tough?
How do we support whānau who are doing it tough? (transcript)
You know for me it’s like when you bring this whole kaupapa into this whatever the environment is people are going to take it from their own personal perspective and I remember one of the tāne said to me oh Whaea that was 250 years ago, what does it matter now?
And I said it matters because you matter and more importantly your tamariki matter and your mokopuna matter and so and always I talk from the place of you know what is the legacy you want to leave?
And we can’t dismiss hurt is hurt. Hurt people hurt people. Whatever that may look like whatever it feels like we have to be present to that.
If you whakapapa Māori you’re descended from a line of chiefs and our rangatira never ever saw anybody as being deficit. I remember one tāne saying to me one day he said “I’ve been to psychologists psychiatrists”, he looked at me and he said “you see me don’t you?” And I said "āe" and he said, “You see how I really am”. And I said “do you know what? I see how clever you are, your tūpuna would be so proud of you,” and he said “you know I’m struggling with this aye?” And I said “āe”
And I said “but what I want to acknowledge you for is you keep coming back”, and he said “āe”.
And I just say bring it on karawhiu, māhia te mahi.
As Tā Hemi said we’ve come too far to not go further we’ve done too much to not do more. Let's just carry on with this because as hard as it is, as challenging as it is for some of our whānau if we can be compassionately with them as they work through this process they know we’re not judging them.
We’re with you, we understand you know and even if we don’t understand we wanna be with you as you travel through this process. And I always say to whānau who have been badly damaged through trauma and they say “I can’t remember a good times that I’ve ever had Whaea”.
I say imagine how you wanted It to be. Imagine your tūpuna and what you wanted them to gift to you and you know creating that space within again I talk about the brain because it’s their whakapapa stuff their awakening they begin to say “this is what I wanted, this is what I needed.”
Okay so bring that into the conversation because the more they focus on the trauma the more it gets activated and so I’m not saying to deny it, we can’t deny, trauma is trauma but if we want to paint a new pathway forward then what is it you can imagine with you embracing, imagine what your tūpuna wanted you to have because when a baby is born no-one says ‘oh great a life to stuff up’. Nobody says that.
But we know that hurt people hurt people because they haven’t dealt with their own trauma. And so it’s creating these processes of building another whare where they can reimagine how it could have been and then to embed that.
So for me it’s like acknowledging our own faults and limitations and bringing that to the fore so you know all the parents are the experts in their baby and I start that first and foremost I’m not the expert in your tamariki you are and I might have some knowledge but you will have the best knowledge that there is to access from within you.
It’s how we listen to people its how we create a process so that I’m here, I’m prepared to listen. I’m not going to offer you a solution because I believe in you, that you have the power to make the changes that you want to make.
Sometimes it can be hard for whānau to move on from negative thinking and behaviour. One of the most common reasons they feel stuck, is the influence of the trauma they’ve experienced in their past.
Mātauranga Māori provides us with rich everyday tikanga, kōrero tuku iho – stories and lessons from Māori ancestors. It help us navigate how we can walk alongside whānau to overcome trauma that they may be holding. This is a good transition point to healing and building knowledge for whānau so they feel free to kōrero without judgement.
Keep it simple at the beginning, try introducing kōrero around whakapapa as a starting point. It provides an opportunity for whānau to think about ‘who they are’ or ‘who they want to be’ for their tamariki and mokopuna.
We have done too much to not do more, we have come too far to not go further.Tā Hēmi Henare
As whānau supporters we can help by:
- asking whānau about their whakapapa
- connecting and reconnecting them to people, community groups and places that recognise whānau whakapapa and culture
- acknowledging the impacts of colonisation on their whānau and whakapapa
- creating time to imagine and wonder with whānau what their tīpuna would have wanted for them
- supporting them to have a recent photo of their tamariki or mokopuna printed and displayed.
Most importantly, believing in them without judgment or expectation will make all the difference.