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Congratulations Kelly Pohio

Ko Horouta te waka

Ko Hikurangi me Mangahauini ngā maunga

Ko Waiapu me Waipaoa ngā awa

Ko Ngāti Porou me Te Aitanga a Mahaki ngā iwi

Ko Kelly Pohio taku ingoa

Tell us about your recent tohu and how it applies into your current mahi as a Kaiarahi for Horouta Whānau Ora?

I completed a 4 year course with Te Wananga o Aotearoa Ngā Poutoko Whakarara Oranga - Bachelor of Bicultural Social Work. This is the acknowledgement of Māori and non Māori knowledge and learning to apply Māori and non-Māori models and ideologies when working alongside whānau and other social services to support reaching or achieving the best outcome.  It is vital that we are aware of legislation, processes, policies relevant to any given kaupapa allowing us to hold all stakeholders accountable (in a respectful way).  Furthermore, it allows for advocation.  The past 4 years have allowed me to take a good look at myself and to understand why I do the things I do or don’t and to identify my biases.  Awareness of oneself supports practice that is non judgemental giving whānau the opportunity to feel comfortable, to feel important, to feel listened and to feel safe when sharing their personal information, their situation and experiences.

My current role as a Horouta Whānau Ora Kaiarahi, I have been told is not really a Social Work role.  We support whānau to achieve dreams and aspirations through identifying goals and outcomes.  The knowledge I have learnt over the past 4 years most definitely benefits the way in which I engage with whānau and how we work together to achieve outcomes.  There are always opportunities to apply my Social Work knowledge while working in any space.  I think everyone is a Social Worker in one way or another, whether we have a tohu or not. Everyday life and the relationships we hold, provide us with many challenges, barriers and opportunities to navigate situations and to problem solve positive resolutions.

What do you enjoy most about your mahi?

I've always been a helper and I've always liked to help (Sometimes this gets me in to trouble-too much on my plate lol).  I think that's what I enjoy the most - when we're able to help whānau achieve an outcome, a goal, or an aspiration that they may have been trying to achieve for a long time, to transform them from one state to another is so rewarding.  This is not done alone – we have a fabulous team lead by strong management who support Kaiarahi to explore all possibilities with assisting whānau.

How do you look after yourself in your mahi which can be at times, heavy?

Being able to separate the two - when you come home, you need to leave mahi behind.  Easier said than done.  I make a point on my way home (which is usually at the Tikitiki sign), that I switch work off. When I come home, I'm home. Karakia is vital to begin and end the day.  An extra karakia too when heading into heavy whānau situations helps to protect my well-being physically, mentally and spiritually.  Riuriu wai after heavy situations – the washing away and leaving of hara behind so as to not carry it to the next place.

Supervision is really important. It's a space where you can learn new things and can identify where you might need to do things differently. It's a place where you can let it all out and be told what strategies or ideologies you can use to try and figure a problem out.  Peer supervision is valuable also to gain different point of view and if needed some honest truths.

Overall, returning home to my own whānau everyday is my safe space.  Caring for, nourishing for, and providing for is how I look after myself – knowing they are happy and pai makes me happy and pai 😊.

How and why did you get into Social Work?

I came from a kōhanga background having a passion for nurturing our babies.  You can see when a child’s home life impacts their behaviours and actions and we made it our responsibility to have those discussions with the parents in a way that does not make any given situation worse for the child but to offer support in a non blaming way.  Anne Huriwai, our former Office Manager at the Ruatoria Rūnanga, approached me to see if I was interested in working within a contract called Family Start. It was with Tuhono Whānau, a family-focused initiative, which I immediately embraced and was ready for change. Having experience with children and whānau from my time in kōhanga, made the transition smooth but this was a very challenging role.  Family Harm, Addictions, Relationship Issues, Poverty,  – for many of our whānau enjoying and supporting the learning and development of your child/ren was not the priority – surviving each day was.

Legislation mandated that every social work role can only be practiced by a qualified social worker or someone working towards their degree.  My work colleague and friend Kellyanne and I pursued studies at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. It was initially inconvenient due to other commitments, but eventually was welcomed because we were already practicing what we were learning.  The wānanga not only educated us on our history and cultural nuances but also provided us with the language that “named” our practices.  This was affirmation of our work alongside whānau building our confidence and hunger to learn more,  Despite the distance from home, having a study buddy like Kellyanne was invaluable. Our trips to Tauranga for noho sessions occurred eight times a year, on top of weekly classes and additional study hours, which was a juggling act alongside full-time work and family responsibilities.

As the workload piled up, I found myself focusing on completing one task at a time, unable to plan beyond the immediate deadlines. It was challenging, but as women, we're adept at getting things done. Towards the end, it felt like the universe was throwing barriers in my way making life increasingly difficult.  Focussing on the most urgent task, completing then moving on to the next is how I got through – which meant a lot of late nights, prioritising study and tasks before going to the rugby or the Waiapu RSA.

Do you have any acknowledgements?

I would like to acknowledge Anne Huriwai for planting the seed. Rina Elers, who at the time of my studies was the manager of Tuhono Whānau. Jeannete Johnson, the supervior at the time as well as Joan-Ella Ngata. Sharlene Connings was a Kaiāwhina and was very supportive, as well as Stacey Hohipa who had just started. The whole Ruatoria office at the Rūnanga where my journey started. If it wasn’t for all the people in that office at the time, I would not have had the confidence.

Former Horouta Whanau Ora Manager Peggy Maurirere Walker supported completion of my 3rd year placement creating Housing Portfolios which could be submitted to obtain housing funding.  Brendon Te Whana was my supervisor whose strength and practice was constructed from his ethical values and believes.  In my 4th year I completed my placement with Huarahi Pai Rehab Programme.  I would like to thank Anne Huriwai and Robyn Smith who was my supervisor during this placement.  Being apart of this programme allowed my to implement many models of practice both Māori and non-Māori to support providing a safe space for participants and facilitators.

Our previous and current Tronpnui CEO provided financial support for 2 years, study leave to attend noho and transport during this 4 year journey.  Without this support, I would not have been able to afford to study.

Our current Horouta Whānau Ora manager Hemoata Jahnke, and General Manager Curtis Bristowe and our team were with me at the finish line joining my whānau and I at my graduation in May of this year.  My team made me understand just how significant this achievement was making me feel valued and important.

My TWOA kaiako, Lina Rudolph, Reona Anderson, Liz Cook, Ruth Nuku-Stanshall and my fellow classmates – we were a class of over 20 to begin with and are class of 12 who graduated.

Last but certainly not least, my husband and my kids – the sacrifices they had to make in order for me to get to the finish line. They were glad to see me graduate. Now my husband is looking at what I can do next, but I better give them a years grace. I’d love to continue studying, it’s opened my eyes to what is in our grasps. Knowledge is power and is realised when it’s used to help others. I hope my tamariki will one day pursue knowledge through Wānanga or University. Higher learning is the way to go. If we nurture and nourish our children with these experiences from a young age, the hope will be realised.

What whakatauki do you live and work by?

The beautiful thing about whakatauki is that they can be translated in many different ways and depends on the person reading it. When I started my studies, we were asked the same thing, and I used to“treat others the way you would like to be treated.” This has become a value of mine which I live by.

Whakatauki we use and live by can change as we move through life.  They can inspire us to keep going, they can support awareness of what is going on in our lives and they can guide us to do better and be better at different stages of our lives.  I feel in the mahi I am doing at the moment, the whakatauki that has been of most value is “Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini” which is about working collaboratively. We have so many whānau struggling at the moment needing support.  There are so many Māori and non Māori in different organisations and services, that can improve the way in which we work together when supporting one or many whānau.  Communication, strong service relationships and the sharing of knowledge supports working collaboratively which will always be beneficial for whānau.

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