As Emma Frost walked out of Te Papa where she had just shared about her tupuna Meri Te Tai Mangakahia she felt cleansed and reinvigorated. “Moving out of Te marae I gratefully ran my fingers along the kohatu with the cleansing waters running over it,” says Emma who is HPF’s Activities Coordinator and Office Manager. “For our talks had so moved us all there felt the need to wash away the tears, revitalise ourselves and move forward to new challenges.” Emma was a panellist at a gathering of Māori historians, curators, archivists, and mokopuna who got together at Te Papa in Wellington on Sunday (August 12) to share an afternoon of kōrero and waiata in celebration of the diverse history of mana wahine. In May 1893, Meri Te Tai Mangakahia (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Te Reinga, Ngāti Manawa, and Te Kaitutae) was the first woman to speak in any New Zealand parliament, presenting the motion that women should be able to vote and to be ‘accepted as members of the parliament’.  Her reasons included whanau who had no male issue or tane to look after their land. Or, their men were koretake in managing their whanau affairs. “It never occurred to me that wahine Māori were involved in this world history action that not only helped shape our nation but that of nations around the world,” Emma told her audience. “I was immediately impacted by this new knowledge because …. what I am familiar with in terms of great icons of women leadership in the history of Aotearoa are Jean Batten and Kate Shepherd. “But this wahine: whose photo sits on the walls of our marae,  who was the daughter of our great Chief Re Te Tai and the grand-aunt of my mother, Irene Frost became someone I could personally relate to, not just because of our toto but because we are both antagonists of women’s reform, kaitiaki of our burgeoning young women, keepers of the values important to us – whanau, hapu, iwi relationships, te Ao Maori and a future that inspires justice and peace… that is why I am moved to try and preserve and tell her story.Emma explained how Meri was also behind Ngā Komiti Wāhine, national forums for Māori women to debate land, cultural, and political issues. “I currently sit on the Women’s Centre Waitakere, I’m tuned into campaigns advocating the rights for women – gender equality and increasing the presence of women on governance boards. As a member of the MWWL Wahine Māori Toko I te ora I am proud to continue her legacy of supporting and presenting on women’s issues.” Emma said the memorable event was well received and there was a lively Q & A afterwards. “Questions centred around what Mana Wahine meant to us? What do we think about funding for Captain Cook commemorations and how have the women who moved us inspired us professionally or in other ways? Some were moved to ears and we’re still asking ourselves ‘what happened’ Kiwi musician Ria Hall’s video of her open letter to the Prime Minister earlier in the day generated much discussion while her strong vocal range during her live performance at Te Papa was also one of the highlights of the afternoon. Aroha Harris who was also a panellist summed up the event: “If you weren’t there, you missed out. Something powerful happened.  I loved it – loved being a part of it; loved hearing you all and getting to know the women you chose.” Others who payed tribute to the diverse history of mana wahine Matariki Williams (Tuhoe, Te Atiawa, Ngati Whakaue, Ngati Hauiti) talked about the lady in the portrait by Wilhelm Dittmer titled Maori girl, whose identity is unknown. Helen Brown (Ngai Tahu) focused on one of the “ordinary, yet extraordinary” women who populate our histories — Mere Harper (1842-1924) who was of mixed descent (Tahu mother and Pequot father). Over six feet tall she was famous for her work as a porter. Aroha Harris (Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi) not only want to talk about Akenehi Hei  as the first registered Māori nurse, and a pioneer in that sense, but also as a woman working steadfastly (and in historiographical terms, invisibly) at the frontline of Māori health. Melissa Matutina Williams (Te Rarawa, Ngati Maru) centred her talk on Mira Szaszy as a complex woman who was both  of and before her time in terms of gender politics and defining what a ‘modern Māori woman’ could look like, do and achieve in the mid-to-late 20th century. Leonie Hayden(Ngati Whatua o Kaipara, Ngati Rango) chaired the talk capably and with foresight and understanding of the issues our ‘inspired women’ were facing.       REMEMBERING: Our very own Emma Frost pays tribute to her tupuna Meri Te Tai Mangakahia at an afternoon of kōrero and waiata in celebration of the diverse history of mana wahine Te Papa, Wellington.       SHARING: HPF’s Emma Frost, third from left, joins other panellists in celebration of the diverse history of mana wahine at Te Papa, Wellington.   Banner pic: A commemoration plaque to Meri Te Tai Mangakahia at her marae in Waihou. Photo by Juliet Lagan  

News, Pacific
As keynote speaker at the Pacific Wave Forum in Auckland from August 6 to 7 Dr Viliami Puloka showed findings that surpassed common perceptions of the diabetes epidemic across the Pacific region. The one that stunned many attendees was a table titled Prevalence Rates of Diabetes: Top 10 Countries of the World. Compiled by the IDF (International Diabetes Federation, 2015), the table revealed that six of the top 10 countries with high rates of diabetes are in the Pacific. Tokelau, an island country and dependent territory of New Zealand, tops the table with 30% of its population aged from 20-79 affected. Following that in order are: Nauru at 24.1%; Cook Islands 21.5%; Marshall Islands 21.3%; Palau 20.9% and New Caledonia 19.6%. The IDF report concluded that “The percent of people affected by NCDs will rise substantially in the Pacific in the coming decades”. Among the Pacific nations not included is Papua New Guinea, despite a substantially bigger population which is growing faster than its Pacific neighbours with increasing NCD rates. A key finding also reveals the NCD mortality burden is much greater in Pacific countries compared to global standings. For Dr Puloka, the Senior Health Promotion Strategist for the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand and a Research Fellow (University of Otago) it is not just a health issue. “It is the only issue … because our health and wellbeing enables us to be able to contribute in a meaningful way,” he says. “Our health is a resource that we do life with. But the statistics clearly show we in the Pacific are not doing it well.” He admits it’s more challenging across the region because the island nations’ smaller economies do not have the health resources its bigger neighbours such as Australia and New Zealand operate on. Therefore, Dr Puloka stresses education and lifestyle changes to diet and exercise are essential to reversing the rising and alarming projections. A 2012 WHO (World Health Organisation) report noted that “tobacco is the leading behavioural risk factor causing substantially large numbers of potentially preventable deaths worldwide, leading to one death every six seconds”. Pacific island nations Kiribati and Papua New Guinea were shown as having the third and fifth highest smoking rates in the world with prevalence rates of 67% and 55% respectively.
Our health is a resource that we do life with. But the statistics clearly show we in the Pacific are not doing it well.
The share of public expenditure on health is also rising, said Dr Puloka, with nine of the 11 Pacific countries featured in a WDI (World Development Indicator) report increasing their share of public spending on health as a percentage of GDP (Growth Domestic Product) between 2000 and 2013, despite being increasingly vulnerable to global economic shocks. Working closer with the private sector is one of the few ways Dr Puloka can see light flickering at the end of the tunnel. “Preventing the rise of NCDs through education is the key for long-term sustainability,” he says. “Working alongside the private sector to find solutions has the potential to provide a workable solution.” Craig Strong, PCF CEO says the Pacific Wave Forum was a success and it wouldn’t have been possible without the PCF team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the programme ran seamlessly. “I’d also like to acknowledge PIFS and PIPSO, who we partnered with, and to all the representatives from the Pacific Private Sector organisations. “Our conference was centred on the Pacific concept of ‘Talanoa’. We heard the stories, ideas and challenges that our region continues to battle – NCDs and Climate Change. “The collective discussions in the duration of the conference resulted in collective actions. These are now drafted in a statement that will be presented at the Private Sector Dialogue with Forum Leaders next month in Nauru, keeping in mind the pertinent theme: Building a Strong Blue Pacific – Our People, Our Islands, Our Will.” (PACIFIC Cooperation Foundation weekly news and updates)     HPF’s Dr Viliami Puloka speaking on non-communicable diseases at the Pacific Wave conference in Auckland.