Operating in Ōtautahi Christchurch for the past 28 years, He Waka Tapu plays a vital role in helping local whānau access much-needed services, as well as running a multitude of important health and wellbeing-focused programmes for the community.

Canterbury Rugby League has partnered with He Waka Tapu to deliver workshops and raise awareness of the services and support available to whānau. The organisations’ shared values and significant crossover in their respective communities, as well as proximity given the eastside location of He Waka Tapu in Wainoni, makes for a logical and invaluable relationship.

“During the Canterbury Rugby League strategic planning consultation process it became clear that our members want us to better understand and deliver to the needs of the community,” CRL CEO Malcolm Humm says.

“An extension of this, and what is now a key goal of Canterbury Rugby League’s, is that ‘participants develop holistically through the support of CRL personal development programmes’. Given He Waka Tapu is a kaupapa Māori organisation located in Ōtautahi, it was an ideal fit for us to partner up with them with the purpose of delivering specific workshops to our community.

“An additional benefit was that the organisation is located in the east of Ōtautahi, the heartland of rugby league in Canterbury.


“If we can contribute to our members’ wellbeing through supporting them to navigate their way through life, with the support of He Waka Tapu, then we feel that is one significant achievement.

“Although Canterbury Rugby League is a Regional Sport Organisation (RSO) we view our remit as wider than that, with a key focus on the health and wellbeing of our membership.”

He Waka Tapu helps deliver and facilitate health services using a framework encompassing Tinana (physical wellbeing), Wairua (spiritual wellbeing), Hinengaro (mental wellbeing) and Whānau (family wellbeing).

“He Waka Tapu incorporates support across every health service you can imagine, from suicide prevention, family violence, alcohol and drug services, to nursing services, and cervical and breast screening,” He Waka Tapu CEO Jackie Burrows explains.

“We have sponsored Canterbury Rugby League previously, but now we look at that money being able to go into smaller sponsorships for whānau who might not have the opportunity to play sports they want to without having some support – that’s why we changed our model in terms of partnering with sporting organisations.

“But obviously a lot of our Māori and Pasifika community love playing and supporting rugby league, it brings whānau together, and across both rugby codes we find there’s whānau that we’ve worked with in the past, or are working with currently.”

Canterbury Rugby League’s partnership with He Waka Tapu will initially see four workshops held throughout the 2023 season. Workshops focusing on suicide prevention and Hauora – a holistic Māori philosophy of health and wellbeing – have already been rolled out during May.

Coming up are workshops concentrating on family violence (Wednesday, June 14), and alcohol and drugs (Wednesday, July 5). Both will be held at He Waka Tapu, 161 Pages Road from 6pm-7pm. No registration is required – just turn up on the night.

Burrows is eager to get the message out to the Canterbury Rugby League community to get as many whānau attending as possible – whether those people are directly impacted by the topic of the workshop, or are looking to support members of their clubs or community who are.

“There probably hasn’t been as many attending (the workshops to date) as we would have liked, but it’s a start and something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time, so kudos to Canterbury Rugby League and Malcolm that it is moving ahead,” Burrows says.

“But like anything, it’s probably going to take a bit of time to see the outcomes for whānau that come from the kind of support He Waka Tapu can provide in that space.

“I think it’s important to participate in these programmes for anyone involved in rugby league, or any sport. If you’re coaching and supporting young people in a sport that you know brings a whānau component with it, it’s helpful to upskill so you do know what services are out there for the whānau you’re supporting.

“It would be really good to see lots more managers and coaches attending our workshops – I know it’s all donated time, but they’re doing it because they believe in what they’re doing and have a whānau component to their lives as well.

“It’s really useful for any club to have people who know a bit about what’s available in the community to support whānau – not just the services of He Waka Tapu, either, but from other organisations.

“These workshops provide a welcoming environment and don’t need to be boring – put yourself out there and learn what’s available for your community.”

Share this

Posted in