The Hutt Hospital established a working party to determine the need for an organisation to work with at risk mothers and their babies. This was initially based on the Hospital based Acorn clubs in Nelson and Otago. Members of St James church and the community became involved through the late Diana Ward, then the school teacher at the Hospital. A survey of GP’s, family support services and Maori organisations confirmed the need to set up such a service and that it needed to be community, rather than hospital based. A steering committee representing Maori, Pacific Islands forums, health and social services, church, and community was established. The outcome of the research and meetings was the recognition of, and commitment to, each cultural section having the ability to manage their own services and to provide these in culturally appropriate and competent ways.
The structure, mission statement and objectives were decided and fundraising commenced. Naku Enei Tamariki became an Incorporated Society. Funding was secured to employ three co-ordinators to develop the project. The Maori, Pacific Island and Pakeha communities each advertised, interviewed and selected their chosen worker. These workers were guaranteed 10 hours a week for 6 months, all the funding would cover. On Thursday 13th July, the combined communities welcomed Shellie Hanley (Maori), Judy Shepherd (Pakeha) and Toesulu Fa’alogo (Pacific Island) over a shared lunch. This was followed by a two week induction period and on 25th July 1993 Naku Enei Tamariki was launched. Each worker received supervision from their own cultural community and was responsible to the Management Committee of NET which, at that stage, consisted of members of all three cultural communities. Shellie was supervised and managed by Teresea Olsen of Kokiri Mare Hauora and Social Services, Toesulu was supervised and managed by the lateTafa Poutoa from Relationship Services, and Judy was supervised and managed by Pamela Cook. This enabled the three NET sections to deliver services and receive supervision which was culturally competent, while remaining part of one organisation. All three supervisors were founding members of NET and part of the management committee.
NET entered into a small ongoing contract with the Community Funding Agency (CFA), the funding arm of Child, Youth and Family. This contract was “to ensure that there is support for families in their own homes, to link parents to resources in their community, to advocate on their behalf and to liaise with government agencies and services.
The three workers continued to be employed and their hours had gradually increased to 20 per week as the CFA funding increased. Naku Enei Tamariki was approved as a Community Service under Section 403, Children and Young Persons and their Families Act 1989.
Teresea Olsen, Manager Kokiri Marae Hauora, informed the management committee of her negotiations with the Regional Health Authority (RHA) to supply Maori maternal and infant health services. She indicated that the RHA might be interested in negotiating with the Pacific Islands and Pakeha communities along similar lines. NET was invited by Central RHA (CRHA) to submit a proposal reflecting the needs of the Maori, Pacific Islands, and Pakeha cultural units. This was supported by SCAN, Te Awakairangi and the Crime Prevention Unit (CPU).
CRHA’s initial response was that there was money available for Maori and possibly for the Pacific Islands section, but that none was currently available for Pakeha. The Maori section successfully fought for each section to have an equal contract and also shared equally the development grant originally allocated to them alone. This contract enabled NET to grow into a well-established and well recognised organisation. It was the basis for our ongoing contract with the Hutt Valley District Health Board (HVDHB). Each section employed more staff, with the Maori section staff based at Kokiri Marae, and the Pacific and Pakeha sections moving into an office in Naenae.
The three sections of NET tendered for the Family/Whanau Care and Support (Well Child Services) contract. Because the Maori and Pacific contracts had already been awarded to other providers, only the Pakeha section’s tender was successful. This has since been merged with the HVDHB contract (previously CRHA) and has meant the Pakeha section received more funding and is responsible for more clients, than the Maori and Pacific sections.
We successfully tendered for the Parents as First Teachers (PAFT) program. This increased our ability to provide a holistic service with funding from social services, health and education. By 2002 NET employed 16 staff. The PAFT contract is divided equally between the three sections.
In partnership with Kokiri Marae, NET successfully tendered for the Family Start contract and our staff again increased. In 2007, our staffing across all three sections totalled 29 kaimahi. Because the Family Start funding was for 8 workers, each with a caseload of 16 families, the Pakeha section suggested that they be funded for 2 workers, while the Maori and Pacific sections were funded for 3 workers. This suggestion was accepted and is a way of both evening out the overall funding for each section, and of meeting the higher needs in the Maori and Pacific communities.