The first thing you notice when you come out of the lift on the reception floor of the Whānau Centre is the incredible green and sand-coloured carpet, depicting a pathway, bush and beautiful koru. The second thing is the very friendly receptionists who will help you navigate the door if you push instead of pull! Not me of course..
So this week I went to go and meet the lovely Alisha Tamepo-Pehi of Te Whānau O Wapareira Trust in Henderson. She's a Registered Nurse, as well as the Team Leader for Child Health Services and the Lead Clinician on the Triple P Programme (more on that later!). This organisation has been providing services to the wider West Auckland community for over 25 years but I'll confess I knew very little about them. They have over 100 employees and offer more than 50 different services. I was lucky enough to get a full tour of their beautiful and very hardworking 5-storey building. There are pods of teams members spread out over the floors, all handling seemingly very effective and comprehensive programmes.
Take Triple-P for example, Alisha's particular pēpi (baby). It stands for Positive Parenting Programme, is for all caregivers of children 0-12 years and is designed to teach skills needed to raise confident health tamariki (children) and build stronger whānau relationships. This programme (like all the others at Waipareira) is completely free to users, and there's no entry criteria.
There are services that promote heart health, cancer screening ones that provide advocates for dealing with other services like Work and Income, as well as social workers, holiday programmes and mobile nurses. Mental health is of course an important area of work for them too, whether its addictions, for children and youth or domestic violence screening and counselling. Did I mention they're all free to users? Click here for a full directory of services.
Alisha explained that one of Waipareira's founding philosophies is about integrated care. When you approach them for help, you're assigned a Kaiarahi (Navigator) who will guide you through what you might need. You don't have to tell your story over and over again, and you don't have to go to a million different places for health, social justice and education services. They will align these services for your needs and make sure your plan is personalised for you and your family. This particularly stood out to me as I've heard countless stories of clients losing heart when trying to get help, after being shunted around and having to start from scratch again and again.
As we wandered the five floors of the Whānau Centre (opened in August of 2016) I got the sense of a very special team of people working very hard to help people of all walks of life, access the help they might need. I got hugs and kisses as well as business cards, and left feeling a little more heartened about the health services available in this country.
If you're in the wider West Auckland area and you think any of Te Whanau O Waipareira's services would help you (or someone you know), you can contact them via their website, or even just walk into their building. Check out their Facebook page and their latest news and updates here. Or ask me, and I'll help connect you.
Take care of each other out there,