Tash Wharerau

This week, we learn from Tash Wharerau, who works tirelessly in our communities with hapū māmā. We first met Tasha at Waitangi Day festival, who had set herself up a space for mums to breastfeed,  learn about wahakura and smokefree support. We were struck by her āhua; how easy she was to talk to, her warmth, and her passion for supporting māmā.

At a time where we can struggle as a sector on how to engage and support whānau in becoming smokefree, Tash has taught us that it’s about getting back to basics- whakawhanaungatanga, building trust and working with communities’ existing stregnths.

To connect with Tash, email Tasha@hauorawhanui.co.nz


Ko Whakatere te Maunga
Ko Moehau te Awa
Ko Ngatokimatawhāorua te Waka
Ko Matetera te Marae
Ko Te Mahurehure te Iwi
Ko Tasha Wharerau matou ko Tony, ko Vijay ko Julian ko Jacinta-Lee Anahera-Grace.

Where was your last holiday?

Our last holiday was a beautiful, 8 day cruise to Fiji. The best thing about this holiday was that we had no Wi-Fi reception so had no need to carry our phones everywhere with us.  We even stopped taking photos of everything we were doing and decided that we usually only were doing this to post on social media. So unless the people were with us, who were we recording it for?  We think everyone could do with a winter holiday as we came back home to frazzled people at work. And if not that then more maramataka recognition of planning time, recognizing our bodies and the seasons to move together with.


Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

My nan – she was the most influential person in my life. She taught me to manaaki the people and then manaaki them some more. Whether you get anything back or not, keep on showing manaaki to the people.  I miss her so very much but thank her for the time we spent together.


For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

 For life itself!  When I was 29 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had removal and reconstructive surgery, then 6 months of chemotherapy and 5 weeks of radiation therapy.  We all know we are going to die one day but when you are faced with your own mortality like that it makes you reconsider the way you live your life, to really celebrate the highs and lows, and find the silver linings wherever they may be. 


What is your most treasured memory?

The birth of my children.  With my first child, ViJay, I couldn’t believe something so perfect had come from me… his beautiful round head… I remember rubbing his vernix into his skin- so lovely and delicious!  With my next boy, Julian, I felt like I was in the jungle hearing monkey and toucan noises. I blame the hormones! He looked like a drowned rat (only a mother could say that!).  With the birth of my daughter, Jacinta-Lee Anahera-Grace, I felt complete, again life doesn’t stop there though, every day there are triumphs and challenges to overcome with them.


In your opinion, what needs to happen to get Māori to achieve Smokefree 2025? 

If the government is serious about becoming smoke-free by 2025, it needs to stop the easy accessibility sale of cigarettes in dairies, service stations, or ban it all together. Raising the price of cigarettes has not worked as well as a deterrent, and in fact takes money away from the whānau instead.  Our whānau are getting sicker and sicker every year and it is such a shame, given the small amount of money given to smoking cessation programs compared to the huge amount of profit that comes from the sale of cigarettes.  I see this all the time with hapū māmā; they don’t want to harm their babies but addiction is strong.