On Tuesday 25 August, with great respect and some sadness, Te Pou returned the Matua Raḵi name to its home in the South Island, to Moana House and the Moana House Training Centre, and to Claire Aitken. It was Claire’s husband Takarangi Metekingi who gifted Matua Raki as a name back in 2004 when it was part of the National Addiction Centre at the University of Otago.

To honour the occasion, here we look back at where the name came from, how the mahi started and how much has been achieved since.  

Matua Raḵi was established in 2004 within the National Addiction Centre, University of Otago, Christchurch campus. The name was given to the addiction workforce development programme by Takarangi Metekingi to set the aspiration for passion, commitment, and excellence. The use of the ḵ equates to ng in the southern dialect, acknowledging that Matua Raḵi was based in Te Wai Pounamu.

Over the years Matua Raḵi has played a significant role supporting the professionalisation and development of the addiction workforce through regular workforce surveys, supporting the development of DAPAANZ as a registration body, and growing the addiction leadership and especially the Māori addiction leadership nationally.

In 2008 Matua Raḵi was hosted within Te Rau Matatini, now Te Rau Ora, and was relocated to Wellington as the national addiction workforce development centre. The work of Matua Raḵi within Te Rau Matatini was relatively independent but the relationship was instrumental in supporting the ongoing development of the mainstream and Māori addiction workforce, especially through the addiction workforce scholarships hosted by Te Rau Matatini.

In 2012 Matua Raḵi moved to Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui (now Te Pou) with its focus on mental health, addiction and disability workforce development. From within Te Pou, Matua Raḵi has continued to support the addiction workforce and its leadership, developing and participating in collaborative programmes of work, and providing events, tools and resources.

Changes within Te Pou in 2018 led to further structural change for Matua Raḵi. The commitment to the addiction workforce has continued, with ongoing support for the workforce and its leadership, and the development of initiatives, tools and resources. But rather than being the stand-alone centre it once was, the name Matua Raki has most recently represented the addiction work within Te Pou.

With recent changes to the Te Pou name and visual identity intended to bring greater clarity about what Te Pou does across mental health, addiction and disability, and in light of the other changes over the years, we asked the original owners of the Matua Raki name what they would like to see happen with it. They indicated it was time for the name to return to Te Wai Pounamu. We agreed this was the right thing to do.

It is worth reflecting on some of what has been achieved under Matua Raḵi in the past 15 years. Many people in the sector have been actively supported by the Matua Raḵi team and have attended events and training. The high-quality evidence-based practice guidelines and resources for tāngata whai ora and whānau remain in high demand and will continue to be available. Matua Raḵi has been an integral part of the ongoing development and recognition of the addiction workforce as a professional group with specific knowledge and skills to support people with addiction issues.

While the name Matua Raki has returned to Moana House in Dunedin, Te Pou remains committed to the mahi. There, nothing has changed. We will continue to actively honour the work that has been achieved in this area, the people who drove it and the wealth of resources that have been created. We look forward to continuing to actively support addiction workforce development and initiatives. The consumer advisory group will remain and so will the many resources that continue to be in so much demand. The website too will continue in its current form for some months before being moved to a new home within a new Te Pou website.