Feedback from Testing the Resources: Messages from Māori Providers

Further testing of the framework and the training resources occurred through visits and discussion between the Maori cultural advisor on the project team and kaupapa Maori service11 leads. Their feedback was that the single session model is a “tooI trainees could acquire in a few days, which would enable them to facilitate valuable conversations that whanau otherwise would not have. ” For example, when services do not include family-in-treatment planning, whanau Maori may assume it is because that is the Pakeha'2 way of working and will not feel comfortable attending a session uninvited. When whanau are asked to attend and their needs are identified, they feel respected and part of the process.

Maori service providers in the Midlands Region (central North Island, Aotearoa New Zealand) considered the irony of receiving advice from Western institutions on a conventional feature and strength of traditional Maori and Pasifika peoples’ practice, while others signaled mistrust based on the limited reference to Australian Aboriginal and other Indigenous communities in the original SSFC materials developed in Australia. Overall, Maori feedback appreciated the simple structure and practical strategies throughout the single session process and identified synergies but questioned why an indigenous Aotearoa New Zealand framework was not promoted instead of, or as well as, the single session framework.

In response, care was taken in future presentations to provide the whakapapa (history) of single session work: its origin and development here, and potential application in Aotearoa for the benefit of whanau. Equipping practitioners new to working with more than one client or their tamariki (children) with a clear structure for whanau to engage in deliberate and intentional discussions about their concerns provided by the SSFC model, was expected to contribute to positive outcomes aligned to whanau ora. In preparing everyone for the whanau meeting, the convening stage of SSFC allows for initial sharing and gathering of vital information needed to manaaki (care for and support) whanau through those discussions and initiate the whakawhanaunga (relationship building) process. Both processes are considered by Maori to be essential elements in genuine whanau engagement and potentially aligned to the whaka- moemiti (prepare and protect), whakatau (establish relations), and wha- kapuaki (identify issues) phases of the Powhiri Poutama Framework (Huata, 2011). This is an example of therapeutic engagement taken from the traditional powhiri ceremony of welcoming visitors to engage in dialogue.

Before meeting with Maori whanau, clinicians are asked to consider their capacity for mana enhancing and tnana protecting practices and employ these when engaging with Maori. Convening an SSFC with Maori whanau may include these additions to the protocol:

  • • Understanding the service users’ and their whanau’s traditional needs
  • • Accommodating speaking in their own language
  • • Making space to explore their whakapapa and the ancestral narratives
  • • Finding out who carries most influence in the family and whether it is appropriate to directly approach them
  • • Convening with the whanau in person, rather than on the phone
  • • Expecting to include tamariki and mokopuna13
  • • Holding the SSFC in the whanau home or on their marae
  • • Opening and closing the SSFC with karakia14
  • • Providing appropriate manaakitanga.15

Effective work with Maori whanau is possible when practitioners use the tenets of u7?a/iaw-centered best practice and respond appropriately to the needs of the whanau and respect their traditional practices.

Relevant literature on existing indigenous models for whanau engagement was reviewed and collated to deepen the cultural understanding of participants. Presentations were developed utilizing three culturally endorsed practice concepts to integrate key themes raised by the Cultural

Advisory Group, and further contributors in the implementation of single session work around the country.

  • Whakapapa is implicated in the indigenous whanau experience of intergenerational transmission of and healing from trauma. It requires facilitators to consider longitudinal whanau knowledge, roles and responsibilities, to work with them effectively (Pihama et al., 2014)
  • Whanau Ora approach provides indicators to measure holistic wellbeing for whanau, individual practice and service delivery. It requires facilitators to realize whanau aspirations for a sustainable future (Ruwhiu, 2009)
  • Manaaki (Mana Enhancing and Protecting Practice; Huriwai & Baker, 2016) describes cultural best practice during engagement that intentionally does no harm to the mana and dignity of whanau, while prospecting for opportunities to affirm and strengthen whanau agency.

Maori identified multiple elements present in any engagement with whanau - the tangata whaiora (service user) and whanau bicultural experience, the individual practitioner’s cultural competency, and the organizational capacity to respond to whanau cultural need. This highlighted the need for services to seek local support and cultural advice, set quality improvement expectations in policy and procedure, and support self-reflective practice with emphasis on understanding one’s own cultural practice before engaging safely with another’s.

Maori-advised adherence to these conditions requires facilitators to recognize whanau as potential allies and experts in their whanau context and experience. This practice would more likely result in a wellness plan that accounted for the cultural reality and aspirations of individuals, and the whanau system with whom they coexist. This was captured in the phrase “let the whanau train the practitioner.”

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