Innovation UnitOpen-sourcing Harakeke: a model for parent-led support
Submission # 47
Publication – Pukapuka
Impact – Social Good
Identity – People & Culture
Auckland, Tāmaki Makaurau
‘Harakeke: a model for parent-led support’ was a self-initiated project by Innovation Unit, supported by additional funding from J R McKenzie, to open-source the ‘Harakeke’ model for other organisations and communities to learn from, or adopt.
‘Harakeke’ is a place-based model which lifts up parents to be local leaders. Parents are supported to run weekly low-cost activities in their local neighbourhoods to connect and support other parents and whānau in their communities. The model was born from a co-design project funded by the Ministry of Social Development in 2014, where Innovation Unit worked with families in Waitākere, Auckland, to understand what could help build positive parenting skills in the area for better child outcomes.
The parents we spoke with often felt socially isolated, judged and overwhelmed, and this impacted their parenting style. They wanted informal, community-led peer-support, because they often didn’t trust formal services which came with hidden agendas.
Between 2015-2019 we recruited and supported 55 ‘parent leaders’ in Waitākere and Kaipātiki to run activities in their local community: from coffee date and walking groups, to guitar and rāranga (weaving) lessons.
“Harakeke creates connections and now lifelong friendships. I never want to leave this community.” – Mother, Waitākere.
In 2019, the project funding came to an end, and we explored different ways to keep the kaupapa alive. One option was to open-source everything we had learnt, so other communities could learn from, or adopt, the model to create better outcomes for tamariki and whānau across Aotearoa.
Poipoia te kakano kia puawai. Nurture the seed and it will blossom.
The kaupapa was to capture and share the core parts of the Harakeke model; what was vital and needed to stay the same, what could change to meet the needs of a different community, and the impact that the model has had on parents, whānau and communities. We wanted to capture this in a way that 1) championed the voices, experiences, and wisdom of the parent leaders involved in the mahi, and 2) was engaging and accessible enough for anyone, anywhere, to pick up and use as a ‘how to’ guide.
Our hope was that by sharing what we had learnt as a koha, changemakers across the motu would be inspired and feel equipped to lead change in their own communities, and create far wider impact than we could ever have achieved on our own.
A core part of the model and the report was the harakeke motif, based on the whakataukī:
Hutia te rito o te harakeke, kei hea te kōmako e kō? He aha te mea nui o tenei ao Māku e kī atu? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. If the centre shoot of the flax is removed, where will the Bellbird sing?...What is the most important thing in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people.
Throughout both, we have tried to champion this whakatakī, by always putting people and connection at the centre.
In 2019, we planned how we could document the model and the impact it had created in Tāmaki Makaurau. We interviewed 8 parent and ‘pod’ leaders, and 4 completed a detailed online survey. We also interviewed our colleague Kataraina Davis who coached both groups to bring the initiative to life in their communities.
We synthesised this information into key themes, drafted the written content, and considered how we could design and communicate it in a way that would be accessible and engaging for a broad audience. We then tested it with our target audience, and iterated it based on their feedback.
A core part of the report is the use of the harakeke motif in both the written and visual content, to make social innovation and scaling language more accessible for a broad audience.
We also used photos, illustrations, strong typographic quotes and harakeke-inspired colours throughout to make the report engaging, and help people connect with stories from parents and families who were involved in Harakeke.
Since sharing the report online and through our networks, we have been approached by individuals and organisations across Aotearoa and Australia who are interested in adopting and scaling the model to create better health and social outcomes in our communities.
In a significant time of change, stress, and isolation due to COVID19, we are incredibly excited to be exploring opportunities to secure further long-term funding to grow the Harakeke model to connect, support and grow parents in our communities.
"Design for social impact deserves applause. Shows awhi and values of kotahitanga."
"Beautiful example of design for the community by the community (prior to the publication output) where graphic design is not the hero but a facilitator of this knowledge transmission.
The publication does a good job at highlighting and elevating the mahi done by the all the parents. It's warm, clear and friendly."
"Amazing co-design community innovation project, clearly impactful"
Credits & Collaborators: Copywriting - Emma Scott, Rachel Knight Experience Design - Kataraina Davis Designer - Rachel Knight Editor - Daniella Radaelli
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