Huritini, a dedicated unit for women taking part in the Mana Wāhine Māori Pathway programme in Ōtautahi/Christchurch, was officially blessed in a ceremony attended by around 50 staff and guests.
Guests included representatives of mana whenua, staff, Mana Wāhine leads, community stakeholders, and some of the prospective residents, who gathered on Friday 3 December to officially bless and name the new Mana Wāhine Pathway Unit at Christchurch Women’s Prison.
In the 2021 Budget, $10 million was allocated to provide a seamless end-to-end kaupapa Māori pathway for women in the wider Waitaha /Canterbury region being managed by Corrections.
The name ‘Huritini’ has been gifted to Christchurch Women’s Prison by Te Taumutu Rūnanga (mana whenua for the area in which the prison is situated).
Huritini is the original name for the upper Halswell River and is often used to refer to the river as a whole.
“We feel privileged at Christchurch Women’s Prison, to be a part of the new Mana Wāhine pathway for Māori women in the Canterbury region,” says Pou Tikanga Mairehe Louise Tankersley. “Founded on our Hōkai Rangi Strategy, the pathway is comprised of a series of Kaupapa Māori initiatives designed to give wāhine an amazing opportunity to grow and flourish in their sense of identity, mana and overall wellbeing.”
Louise says like the course of the Huritini river, our wāhine experience many twists, turns and changes as they journey through their lives. “Just as the Huritini is a place to gather what we need to sustain us, physically, spiritually, emotionally, Huritini Unit is a place where wāhine can gather knowledge, understanding, confidence and practical skills in Te Ao Māori, and utilise these to turn their own lives and the lives of their whānau in the direction of positive change.”
Taumutu representative Justin Tipa delivered the blessing for the new modular unit, located within the wire at the prison.
With the Huritini Unit blessed, women will now be identified and inducted into the unit prior to an official opening by Minister Kelvin Davis planned for March 2022.
The blessing also recognised the pounamu as the mauri kōhatu, taking pride of place in the centre of Huritini Unit. The pounamu, named ‘Te Kahurangi,’ personifies the mauri (physical life force) and the wairua (spiritual life force) of the Unit and supports the mauri and the wairua of the wāhine and the staff who reside and work there.
As a mauri kōhatu (life-giving stone), Te Kahurangi will provide wāhine with a solid foundation on which to establish their life-changing journey in Te Ao Māori (the Māori world). It is a touchstone that represents the calming influence of the spiritual world, alongside a steady physical presence that they can see, touch and feel whenever they feel the need.
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