Caring for kaumĀtua

By AARP International  |  Photos by Marco Javier

The Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust is a unique nonprofit organization in Hamilton, New Zealand that is both governed by and serves the needs of kaumātua, or older people. The Trust provides a range of culturally appropriate and accessible health, social, and community-based activities and programs for those over 55 years old, with the purpose of enhancing their quality of life. Approximately 80 percent of the people who utilize the organization’s services identify as Māori.

The Trust operates under the korowai framework, a Māori-centered approach with a focus on culturally appropriate ways to support the holistic well-being of kaumātua and their whanau (families). A korowai is a traditional Māori ceremonial cloak made from the fibers of the flax plant. The vision of the Trust is to weave together a korowai of offerings (education, recreation, welfare, housing, and health and well-being) to wrap around the kaumātua “to keep them warm and safe.” Cultural inclusion and community engagement have helped to make Rauawaawa an essential support system within Hamilton, and a valuable resource for the wider community. 

Kaumātua volunteer George Richmond, 69

Trustee Raiha Gray, 81

Trustee Bosen Rota, 79

The Board of Trustees gather in the courtyard of the organization’s facility, Te Puna o Te Ora (“Spring of Wellness”) in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Staff and trustees join in a virtual exercise class.

Staff perform a Māori song in the wharekai (dining room). Prior to becoming the home base of the Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust in 1988, the building served as a housing facility for members of the local Māori community. Today, the building continues to be a gathering place for kaumātua and their whānau (families).