Tū Māia – the origins of our connected gifting programme

timoti-holding-kids-hand-cropped

Tū Māia; To stand strong, brave, bold and confident.

 

We are so excited to finally release our project to the world – Tū Māia! 

Since Tim was led to his first pounamu kohatu by his moemoea taniwha he knew he was meant to do more with this gift than simply fill his own cup. Something bigger was being demanded of him by that taniwha.

As Tim carved and gifted taonga to friends and whānau in those first few months, we both watched people light up and stand taller as the pounamu taonga went around their neck.  This pounamu had the power to change people.  We knew something more was being asked of us, but what was it? 

Then Tim attended a Te Putahitanga hui in Otautahi where he heard the young man, Tupua Urlich, share his story.  Tupua grew up in the state care system, and his experience was traumatic. Tupua’s tragic experience in the system inspired him to work with others to establish the NGO VOYCE Whakarongo Mai.  Their goal? To amplify the voices of children in care and ensure that they are heard. To keep the voices of children and young people in care at the centre of all the decisions made about them.  

Tim was deeply affected by Tupua’s korero. Having had a traumatic upbringing himself, listening to Tupua was like hearing his own story.  Tim saw a brave young tāne not afraid to share his story in the hopes that it would help others. It affected Tim deeply and he felt moved to give Tupua the new taonga he had carved and was wearing for the hui. The exchange was momentous, both tāne were brought to tears.  Tupua’s head lifted, his shoulders went back, and you could viscerally feel the pride, strength and aroha that taonga brought to Tupua. 

In that moment Tim knew why the taniwha had led him to the pounamu, he had to carve a pounamu taonga for every tamariki in care.  And so Tū Māia was conceived.

From that initial realisation of what Tim’s pounamu purpose was, we have plodded away in the background on this project.

First we needed to find an organisation we felt comfortable working with, who would be able to help us get the taonga to the tamariki.  We had to be free of all the bureaucratic red tape that would suck up all of our time, energy and our funds for the kaupapa so an independent non-governmental organisation was a must. We also wanted to work with an agency that actively listens to and responds to the needs of our tamariki in care.  And who understands and values the mana of this kaupapa. 

As VOYCE Whakarongomai is co-designed by children with care experience for children with care experience VOYCE were the obvious choice from the start. Fortunately for us they were excited about our plans and keen to help us get taonga carved and gifted to every tamariki in care.

So with that major question resolved it was now a matter of the details – how many do we need (Initially 6000 plus, yup there are that many tamariki in care in Aotearoa🥺), what would we carve (Ira! Beautiful, simple, complete dots) and how are we gonna carve all these taonga and still pay our rent?!

In the end all of our questions were answered and today we bring you Tū Māia – helping our tamariki grow and flourish, nurturing them with the gift of pounamu.  A gift of strength, love, courage and safety.  It’s a beautiful kaupapa and something we are proud of.

And how are we funding this carving of 6000 plus taonga?  Well, we just are. Tim has been working away on them as he can and we came up with the idea of a buy one gift one type plan.  Every time you buy a Taonga By Timoti you are helping us to buy all the things we need (cord, tools, boxes etc) to carve these taonga for our tamariki.   So all you have to do is buy yourself a beautiful Taonga By Timoti and you are doing something awesome for all our care experienced tamariki!  Pretty easy eh?

You can also make a direct donation to tautoko this kaupapa if you’re keen.

And so whānau, that’s what we’ve been up to in the back ground lately…taking photos, writing up web pages, sorting our bank accounts, organising logistics with VOYCE.

It’s been incredible to watch all the pieces fall in to place. And we are excited to get these first taonga out to our tamariki in care.

We’ll keep you posted on Tū Māia activities and will be back soon letting you know when our website update will be happening.

Stay loving whānau.
Mā te ngākau
aroha koe e ārahi

Let a loving heart guide your decisions

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