Written by
Simon Henderson

Kaumātua strength classes go national

Published on Apr 13, 2023

A kaupapa Māori programme developed at Ōtakou Marae is set to be rolled out nationally.

Taurite Tū at Te Kāika in Dunedin

Taurite Tū are strength and balance classes for kaumātua Māori and their whānau aged 50-plus that uses traditional Māori techniques to strengthen muscle, build balance and confidence and prevent the risk of falling.

Project leader Katrina Pōtiki Bryant (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu, BPhty, MPhty) said the concept of Taurite Tū first came to fruition at Ōtākou Marae to address concerns from Te Runanga o Ōtākou upoko Edward Ellison that kaumātua Māori were not receiving targeted falls-prevention approaches.

Between 2018 and 2022, with the support of kaumātua Māori, Māori physiotherapists and movement experts in mau rākau (Māori martial arts), tī rākau (Māori stick games), poi, tākaro (games) and whare tapare (Māori performing arts), she researched a te ao Māori falls-prevention solution with equitable outcomes for ageing Māori. Participants from Ōtākou and Puketeraki marae in Karitane (north of Dunedin) and Ōtākou Health Clinic’s Te Kāika took part in the first phase of the programme.

Resources were then developed for other rūnaka and Māori organisations and now it was being picked up across the country.

"Not only does Taurite Tū support the tinana (bodies) of our kaumātua, but it also provides them with a strong social support network within a Māori context.

"There is clearly a need for this sort of programme and we love seeing kaumātua from across the motu taking part, increasing their strength and balance while having a good laugh," Ms Pōtiki Bryant said.

The programme has been funded by primary health network WellSouth.

WellSouth pou oraka matua (director of Māori health and equity) Peter Ellison (Kāi Tahu) said it was important to support Māori organisations making a real difference in health and wellbeing.

"WellSouth identified Taurite Tū as an excellent service that supports our commitment to equity and ensuring whānau have access to better health and better lives," he said.

"Taurite Tū provides a holistic care programme for kaumātua that is tailored to individual needs, through team-based ways of working across community and set in te ao Māori. Kaumātua across the motu have embraced Taurite Tū and so we need to ensure this programme can continue to be delivered."

So far, Taurite Tū was delivered at nine marae and organisations, with another 14 from across Aotearoa lined up ready to go in 2023.

WellSouth is supporting the delivery of the programme at a number of locations in Otago and Southland.

This story was published by The Star.