July 2014: As the Rotorua-based Whānau Ora coordinator for WERA Aotearoa Charitable Trust, the newest provider to join the Te Arawa Whānau Ora Collective, her focus is on helping families realise that their dreams are achievable with a little planning and commitment.
Hinehou was born in Opotiki and raised throughout the rohe of Tūhoe and Te Arawa. During that time she came to know the value of education and studied at Waiariki, Victoria University and Auckland Unitec all towards a Bachelor of Social Work. Hinehou was previously employed in a range of roles, including; work as a Prison Officer, Social Worker and Probation Officer. She has also worked as a Community Nurse and in Community Mental Health as well as a tutor in Life Skills for a range of accredited courses.
It is this broad range of work and education that Hinehou has drawn her wealth of experience and knowledge from which has enhanced and informed her practice with whānau. It has also given her insight into the power of Whānau Ora.
“What is unique about Whānau Ora,” explains Hinehou “is that it’s about whānau having control of the changes they make in their lives. They do it under their conditions, to their timeframe and as a collective family unit. They realise they are achieving their goals because they have determined what is right for them.”
Memorable moments for Hinehou include one of the whānau she was working with having that “light bulb” moment whilst reading their Whānau Ora plan, “priceless!” she says with joy, adding; “Another whānau, when reviewing their whānau plan were quick to highlight the areas of the plan where they had achieved significant milestones. They wanted these achievements recorded, they were immensely proud. I also remember vividly, watching the look on the face of a mother, who had not worked for four years and through the help of WERA gained full time employment – just incredible, the pride she had to be working again was just awesome to witness.”
Hinehou feels privileged to work with the whānau she supports and watch them as they realise the strength and power of their own skills and abilities. “That whānau invite me into their very private lives as they begin to peel back the layers and include me in their revelations, is very humbling indeed” Hinehou exclaims softly.