Whanau Ora graduate ives back aroha

Giving back . . . Otago Polytechnic student Ardijah Rakete graduated with a New Zealand Certificate in Whanau Ora (Level 3) in March. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Ardijah Rakete is someone who understands the power of looking inwards.

Having graduated in March with a New Zealand Certificate in Whanau Ora (Level 3), Ardijah regarded the qualification as another step on a path that involves powerful, life-changing processes of honest self-reflection.

In short, by helping herself, she felt better equipped to help others.

A collaborative programme between Arai Te Uru Kokiri Training Centre and Otago Polytechnic, the New Zealand Certificate in Whanau Ora (Level 3) is aimed at those who wish to work with Maori and whanau in the development of a whanau-centred approach that supports wellbeing.

Ardijah enjoyed the combination of classroom and hands-on learning in which facilitators have mixed korero, presentations, visuals and other interactive approaches, including understanding the key dimensions of hauora, which encompasses physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing.

“Because of my own depression and anxiety, I want to help others who have been going through a rough time. I heard about the Whanau Ora programme and was really interested in it.”

Ardijah, who had since completed the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) and had recently started the Level 5 programme, said these, too, offered a broader view of what constitutes health.

“All of this feeds back into what makes you feel good. And if you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to help others feel better about their situation.”

Today, in addition to her busy family life and studies, she is a mentor to a first-year student at Otago Polytechnic and regularly leads health-related initiatives in the communities of which she is a part.

Over lockdown these included a TikTok competition for her wider Maori community and Facebook group live exercise classes for her fellow Maori students.

“Ardi’s whanau ora approach to life and resulting contribution was a strong factor in her recent selection as a 2020 recipient of the Otago Polytechnic Matawaka scholarship,” Otago Polytechnic Maori Learner Success director Desiree Williams said.

Ardijah’s response: “I’m just giving back some of that aroha.”

The Kokiri Training Centre is taking enrolments for the New Zealand Certificate in Whanau Ora (Level 3).