Taonga Takiwātanga Charitable Trust was established in 2020 to address the unmet needs of whānau Māori seeking authentic Kaupapa Māori support for their Taonga Takiwātanga (whānau member on the Autism spectrum). The core business of Taonga Takiwātanga Charitable Trust is to deliver professional development and support to whānau living in high populated Māori communities.
The concept intended to address the absence of regular Autism training delivered in Gisborne and the wider Tairāwhiti region. The need was becoming a priority, as frontline staff working in the health, disability and education sectors saw a steady increase in referrals and enrolments for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum. However, many frontline practitioners were not equipped with the expertise or knowledge to appropriately support the child and or their whānau.
Te Tairāwhiti Māori population is estimated to be 54%. Māori in Te Tairāwhiti are particularly disadvantaged due to the geographical location, and the dearth of literature and research that reports on Māori with Autism. In response, Taonga Takiwātanga Charitable Trust developed a series of marae based Takiwātanga Wānanga in Te Tairāwhiti as a local solution to a local issue. The intent behind marae based learning offered a ‘by Māori’ learning experience for professionals and a sense of familiarity, safety, and security for whānau Māori.