The tikanga Māori parenting programme changing lives across generations

A study of a west Auckland parenting programme says it proves early intervention gives children better outcomes.

The Incredible Years course, run at Te Whānau o Waipareira in Henderson, was customised to include tikanga Māori.

Analysis into the six years it has been running has found every dollar invested has created almost four times that in social value.

Newshub spoke to two parents who say it has turned their lives around.

"My focus was my children. No matter what I had to do, it was for them" - Piripi Rakete 

Pictures of Piripi Rakete's four children cover almost every inch of wall space in his Rosehill home. 

Four years ago, they were uplifted by Oranga Tamariki. Rakete was addicted to meth. He had hit rock bottom.

"I needed to pull my head in," he told Newshub. I needed to make a new start for my children because I wanted them back."

Through a friend, he was introduced to Incredible Years.

"You can get given help, you can get offered help, and you can turn it away. But if you're meant to get it, and you're meant to do it, it's gonna happen," he says.

The 14-week programme aims to intervene with parents to address any potential conduct problems in their children. 

Rakete learned things that seemed simple but made a big difference.

"When talking to children, not talking down on them. Getting down on your hands and knees and talking to them," he explains.

Rakete now runs anti-meth workshops at schools across Auckland. He sees his children once a month, and is working on regaining custody.

"I made a plan in 2016, and I accomplished everything that was on that sheet. But I've actually done more than I planned to do."

"If we change the way we are, it's going to change the kids for the better" - Corrin Philipp 

Corrin Philipp works part-time for Waipaeira in the Incredible Years programme.

She was also once a participant. Her journey started with addressing how she spoke to her two teenagers.

"I was tired of yelling at my children," she says. "I was tired of getting them to do things through verbal abuse."

By changing her kōrero, she created more peace at home. And she's noticed her children are performing better in school as a result.

"They're happy. They're heard. They're confident, they can speak up, they're not scared. They're everything I would love for them to be," she says.

Rather than chastising her son for only washing one dish, or only vacuuming his own room, she now praises him for making an effort.

"They are our next generation, we need to be the best that we can be for our kids so our kids can make it, and be successful, and be the best people they can be too. And we can only teach that through example, role modelling."

After completing the course in 2013, Philipp did it again with her partner, and with friends. 

"We're on a roll. We're not going back. We're only moving forward now and we're going with positive and high hopes. We're gonna succeed, my babies are gonna succeed. I'm a great mother and I know I'm a great mum!"

"What was inherent in any success was their sense of identity" - Ngā Tau Miharo 

Incredible Years has been run around the world for thirty-five years, but Waipareira's programme Ngā Tau Miharo is the first time it's been tailored to an indigenous population.

In this case, it adopts Te Whare Tapa Whā - a Māori holistic health model approved by the Ministry of Health. 

"When I was brought up, I was brought up on my Pakeha side. I didn't really know about my tikanga side, my Māori side. So going into a course with tikanga being a main component to it is a big thing," says Rakete.

"It made me feel like I was in a good environment and I was somewhere I could relate to," adds Philipp.

Waipareira's chief operating officer Awerangi Tamihere believes the tikanga approach is what's given it the edge.

"When you have your own people who understand, who've been through issues like that, and then they open up with trust and they get confidence, that is the beginning of blossoming families," she explains.

"This could really stop the intergenerational cycle" - Social value 

Over the past six years, Ngā Tau Miharo has worked with more than 300 whānau.

A new report into that work has found for every dollar invested, it's generated $3.75 of social value, a cost-benefit ratio that assigns value to outcomes such as increased employment, or better health.

"It doesn't just look at something based on an economic point of view," explains Social Return on Investment practitioner Dr Sneha Lakhotia.

"It looks at something holistically, it sees what change has been done in the social context, the environmental context, and the economic context."

Through her research on the programme, Dr Lakhotia measured its success on a different sort of profit.

"Social value is important because if you have a vision, you have a goal. Just like how in life you want to know what you're doing, where you're thinking, it shapes your journey and thus your destination," she says.

Those involved with the programme believe it can inform social policy decisions made by the Government, and it's wellbeing approach.

"While it's announced it, it needs to demonstrate with its funding how it supports programmes on the ground that can now evidence wellbeing, particularly in vulnerable communities," says Tamihere.

The Waipareira Trust is now preparing a business case for a number of government agencies, to get it rolled out further afield.