Five minutes with…Anaru Ah Kew

Background: Of Waikato-Tainui and Kai Tahu descent, Anaru is the Kaiwhakahaere for Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura.

Born in Auckland and raised in Wellington he attended boarding school at Te Aute College before commencing a trades career in roofing. He moved into the banking and landscape design industries but quickly found and pursued his passion in health. Anaru attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport and Recreation, majoring in Physical Activity, Nutrition and Maori Health with Auckland University of Technology.

Through his work as a healthy lifestyle coach with Mahitahi Trust and Tangata Whaiora, he was responsible for establishing a health promotion unit and embedding health initiatives within the organization and community.  Here he found a niche focusing on health outcomes for Maori.

Current Role: “I started as a coach for Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura and then moved into the Kaiwhakahaere position. I lead the responsiveness to Maori across the organization at all levels, from governance and our in-house staffing team, through to our partners and community.

“It is about putting Maori at the forefront and ensuring Maori aspirations and outcomes are embedded throughout the work we do.

“I work with mana whenua iwi as well as the large urban Maori population who now call Auckland home. South Auckland has the highest numbers of Maori across all major cities and it is my role to ensure their needs are represented at the table. That we understand protective factors of culture like te reo Maori, spiritual connection to land, whakapapa, tino rangatiratanga and use those things to improve health outcomes and help make sense of our systems approach.”

Projects you are working on: “I started by looking after the wellness stream with workplaces like Frucor and, participating in projects around Alcohol. Now, through my role with our Maori staff roopu, we have built a relationship with Manurewa Marae giving assistance with their Whakapiki Ora homelessness initiative and looking at smoking habits of Maori women in their community. With Manurewa having the highest prevalence rates for smoking amongst Maori, the relationship with the marae has been crucial in gathering insights with wahine Maori who live and work in the community, involving them in a co-design process to understand the system and how we can influence it.”

What is your vision for health and wellbeing in South Auckland?

“What is good for the most marginalized people in our community, is good for our whole community. So ensuring we are creating systems change that will influence all levels of society is my goal.”