Māmā Moving Mountains’ dream of alleviating Northland poverty is nationally recognized

Some of the wāhine toa behind Māmā Moving Mountains, including (from right) Sherie Ihaia Reweti, Liz Cassidy-Nelson, Carol Peters and Corina Moses. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The humble but life-changing dreams of Whangārei moms are becoming reality thanks to a group of dedicated women fighting poverty.

For two and a half years, a collective of local wāhine have been inspiring whānau to aspire under the banner of Māmā Moving Mountains.

Now these māmā are extending their helpful hands further into Tai Tokerau thanks to a $100,000 national grant from Te Hiringa Hauora.

Taha wairua leader Sherie Ihaia Reweti says they provide a safe place for mums to brainstorm ideas, share experiences and offer support.

“We take the dreams and aspirations of māmā – what they want to do for their whānau and for themselves to thrive – and we take them, help nurture them, and see what it can become.”

So far, wāhine have been able to develop small businesses and papakāinga, find jobs, buy homes, or collect children from the state.

Māmā Moving Mountains focuses on the Te Whare Tapa Whā Maori health model – Taha tinana (physical health), taha whānau (family health), taha wairua (spiritual health) and taha hinengaro (mental health).

For circle leader Corina Moses, “uplifting brotherhood” was about normalizing self-love.

“It’s a reminder for māmā and wahine to fill our own cups because we do so much in our whānau with our tamariki, pēpi and tane,” she said.

Reweti added, “If we don’t put the love back in ourselves, how are we going to love everyone else if we don’t show that care and kindness to each other?”

The 155 Whare Āwhina project was first thought of at a 2016 Child Poverty Action Whangārei hui, said founder and supervisor Carol Peters.

At the time, the hui addressed the questions of what actions would begin to reduce Northland’s poverty or what could be done to help people transform their lives.

“Big questions, from which a collective came together – Māmā Moving Mountains,” Peters said.

“This inspiring project was built on the belief that mothers have big dreams for themselves and their children, they want the best for them in their growing lives and in their future.”

And the best way to do that was for the wāhine to work together as a collective.

The initiative, facilitated by Shirley-Anne Brown, was “simple but quite powerful,” Peters said.

Reweti said the group is open to any wāhine who cares about whānau – you don’t have to be a mother. Anyone interested in learning more or participating can email [email protected]

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