Tue, 25 May 2010 8:54a.m.
By Philip Patston
Like me, having heard a lot about Whanau Ora in the past few months – but not a lot actually about it – you may be wondering what it's all about.
Excuse the tautology.
So, being modern, and thinking that Whanau Ora is modern, I headed over to @WhanauOra on Twitter. Their latest tweet was a link to a recent post on Facebook – a slide presentation* from a recent hui.
By the second slide I had my assumption confirmed - Whanau Ora is modern – so modern in fact that it is described as a "brand". And, it seems, part of the brand is an image of an unfurled fern frond which, unfortunately (or perhaps purposefully) looks like a marijuana bud, particularly when it's horizontally squashed by whomever put the graphics together on the PowerPoint.
Not only is Whanau Ora a brand, but it's also a health goal, a method of practice, an outcome goal and a policy.
I always thought an outcome was something you got when you reached a goal...
The next slide, "Whanau Ora as a Brand", lists a number of strategies, awards, programmes, aspirational statements, funds and initiatives from the last eight years. They feature the words "whanau", "ora", or both in the titles.
Ok, so that's what branding is. I'm not sure what the next slide means.
Then we get into the Implementation section of the presentation but strangely the first thing we see are the people in the Governance Group. Apparently this group of six community leaders and senior government executives (one of whom has resigned his post, just in case the others hadn't noticed) are responsible for facilitating implementation as well as giving advice, leadership and direction.
They're going to be busy, but maybe this is the modern approach.
Then we learn there will be ten regional leadership groups. They will provide advice and recommendations back to the Governance Group while leading strategic change and fostering communications (sic) and relationships.
Methinks too many chiefs, perhaps?
Next, the obligatory diagram! It's blue and green (which should never be seen, my parents said) and there is a square box in the middle labelled "whanau", surrounded by a circle between two oblong boxes connected by two double-ended arrows. Green, it would seem, represents initiatives and blue, services. The initiatives comprise supporting capacity and capability building; the services will be provided by up to 20 providers, contracts will be streamlined and training and development will be provided.
But if it's not, whanau initiatives are "investment in Whanau engagement and leadership", funded by Te Puni Kokiri and proposals will be invited from August.
The next slide about services says nothing about what the services are going to be, so I won't waste your time. Similarly, the following slide does not give any inkling into what outcomes are expected or even hoped for – it just asks, "Whose outcomes?"
Indeed. But rest assured, they will be based on action research, evaluation, monitoring and administrative and other data sources.
Ok, it's only a powerpoint on Facebook (and I'm not sure how "official" it is) but the most I can find about it on Te Puni Kokiri's website are FAQ's and speeches. From my experience of seeding initiatives over the past 20 years, here's what I think Whanau Ora, like many other similar programmes, lacks or, at least, has not been clear in articulating:
A clear vision, mission and aim – what change in society is envisioned and how will that be achieved?
Clear delineation between governance and management – who are the stewards of the vision and how will they ensure the direction is held during implementation?
Specific outcomes – these may change over time, but it is useful to document them along with the vision at the beginning, to remember what the original intention was.
If you have found a document that states these things, please let me know.
Otherwise, I fear in a few years we may end up having to rebrand Whanau Ora "Whanau Poorer".
Watch the Powerpoint slide presentation