Te Waipuna Puawai (TWP) is a thriving community development initiative, based in the heart of the Tamaki community in Auckland. Established in 1999, TWP is committed to working with and alongside women, children and families. It aims to improve the lives of families by providing support services and adult education.
HEART (Healthy Relationships in Tamaki) Movement is a collective local response to high rates of family violence. It’s a community-led initiative, supported by Te Waipuna Puawai, with a vision of “Tamaki homes actively grow loving, safe and supportive relationships.”
Launched in February 2012, HEART Movement’s mission is to provide a shared space for people in the community to gather, connect, learn and share food: helping prevent family violence by promoting healthy whānau relationships. HEART Movement is built on the philosophy that strengthening the connection between people and their places creates shared value, increases sociability, cooperation, pride and influence to grow better families and neighbourhoods.
HEART Movement has developed a 20-year Theory of Change which has been translated into its outcomes-based strategic plan. Community members are supported to build readiness to act and prevent family violence through four distinct yet interrelated (and non-linear) stages of changes – Learning, Connecting, Acting and Influencing. As awareness grows and people seek support to change their behaviours, they in turn provide support to each other to enable action. There have been many positive impacts so far.
“We are very proud of the conversations and training we have hosted over the years, and last year we attracted 475 participants to HEART training. These learning platforms have helped increase the understanding of local community workers, church leaders, and other leaders around building healthy relationships and preventing family violence in the community and the wider society. In these spaces, we challenge the secrecy and feeling of helplessness and inevitability that is often associated with family violence among the community. It encourages dialogue and debate to increase local understanding and create hope for change for this hugely complex problem,” says Nandita Mathur, Programme Lead HEART Movement.
“Koru Group is another key highlight of HEART Movement and has helped embed our commitment to the empowerment of women. It is a celebrated safe place to share our stories, to connect and to be there for each other to heal and grow. Local women meet weekly to connect, talk, listen, heal, learn and grow,” says Nandita.
“The women from Koru Group organised our first women’s collective gathering on International Women Day in March 2019. The goal of the conference, ‘Mana Wahine’, was to facilitate a collective women’s journey to grow their voice and influence. Our speakers and panellists were all local women, and they talked about the raw experience of overcoming violence and being in that difficult space of unhealthy relationships. We talked about the influence of alcohol and drugs in our life, and our ancestors and their knowledge of who we were meant to be,” says Sirikit Diaz, a Community Change Agent, one of a large group of local leaders who champion the work and messages of HEART.
“HEART Movement is shifting our language and approach from deficit thinking to a more strength-based approach. Though seemingly simple, the focus on healthy relationships rather than family violence has been quite visionary and has helped us facilitate community conversation on a very difficult topic. It is an ongoing, generative conversation that helps people shift into new thinking that is not accessible when only discussing family violence prevention,” says Tara Moala.
The community has mobilised together for the good of all. They are working towards a brighter future and are supporting each other every step of the way. The strength of this empowerment and ownership is best articulated by Dickie Humphries, another Change Agent. He had this to say about this important mahi:
“What I love about HEART Movement is the notion that we have something within us that we can grow to heal ourselves and our families and create wellbeing: we do not need fixing, we do not need an agency to work with us, we can do it ourselves.”