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Honey Hireme-Smiler teaching archery

Ngā Kaihoe o Halberg -The paddlers of Halberg – are driving the Halberg Foundation’s Māori strategy and guiding it on a journey through tikanga Māori, while raising the participation levels of physically disabled young Māori in sport and recreation.


A 2017 report by Sport New Zealand identified that participation by Māori in sport and recreation has declined significantly over the past 16 years.

The Halberg Foundation (Halberg) recognised it didn’t have a formal Māori strategy to support its aims and set about changing that with a strategy to affirm Māori approaches within Halberg, and to support Māori-led initiatives to improve the participation of tāngata whaikaha (people with disabilities), their whānau, hapu and iwi.

Halberg is a charitable organisation founded by Olympian Sir Murray Halberg on the belief that everyone, regardless of their ability, should have equal opportunity to enhance their lives through sport and recreation. A team of regional advisers throughout New Zealand work with physically disabled young people and their families to involve them in sports and recreation.

Under the direction of the chief executive, an advisor was appointed as the Kaiarahi for Halberg and an internal plan developed to weave Māori tikanga throughout the organisation.

Along with a senior manager and advisers, the Kaiarahi formed a rōpu named Ngā Kaihoe o Halberg – the paddlers of Halberg. Its purpose is to guide and lead the implementation of the

Halberg Māori strategy across the organisation and within specific services and locations. A kaumātua was appointed to support the journey.

An action plan was developed giving direction and guidance to the purpose and work of Halberg. The initiative was strongly supported by the Executive Board.

Operations Manager Anne-Maree Broom says, “It gives a pathway for Halberg to achieve success and keep a focus on the people we work for, our tangata whaikaha. The plan seeks to enhance Māori service provision, and both bi-cultural and Māori for Māori service delivery streams via Halberg Te Rōpu Kaimahi Māori.”

Man in wheelchair on stage

Staff training sessions have been held on the Treaty of Waitangi, tikanga, kawa, karakia, waiata and himene. Tikanga is upheld at staff hui including whakatau for all new staff. An internal tikanga guide was created to support staff in their own cultural practices and they are encouraged to include karakia and tikanga in meetings and at Halberg events.

Staff hui results have shown that sessions relating to Māori development have been popular. Feedback points to better understanding and increased confidence, and the sessions were considered positive for team building.

One employee wrote, “It has increased my understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in a friendly and easy manner - it is great to see the whole team embracing te reo as best they can and that the rōpu encourages participation without making it onerous.”

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