Jackson Waerea pictured with his whānau

Local Hauora Heroes

Jackson Waerea

Project PATU

Jackson Waerea, Director and founder of Patu Heretaunga, is a proud father of three beautiful tamariki, with whakapapa ties to Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Toa and Ngāi Tahu.

Waerea was one of the founding creators of PATU Aotearoa, an exercise programme aimed at improving the fitness and health of Māori and Pasifika people. Since its creation the kaupapa has evolved, with Waerea now directing PATU Heretaunga which focuses on broader hauora initiatives and programmes. With the difficulties of COVID lockdowns and the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle, PATU Heretaunga has grown to meet the needs of locals, with their programme Project PATU focusing on supporting young people.

Through his mahi Jackson spends his days passing on his passion for exercise to rangatahi, connecting them with the taiao and whakapapa in order to support their development, giving them skills that will support their whānau for generations to come. We sat down with Jackson for a kōrero about Project PATU, his driving forces and his aspirations for our people.

1. Project PATU is such an awesome whānau-centric kaupapa, how has your own upbringing led to your involvement and mahi in the hauora space?

Our whãnau are from Bridge Pa but we were raised in Flaxmere. Growing up in Flaxmere, a lot of our friends used sports and exercise as an outlet, over the years it grew into a passion and motivation for improving the wellbeing of our whãnau.


2. What is Project PATU about? What inspired you to get involved with this kaupapa?

Project PATU, is a 6-week rangatahi programme that focuses on 3 pillars: Education, Hauora and Employment. Our programme leans on our hauora pillar as the vehicle to support disengaged youth with education or employment goals. Exercise and activities with a connection to the taiao shape a lot of our daily routines. We use Kahungunu landmarks like our maunga, moana and awa to deliver our mahi. We also gather and process meat, go hunting, diving, fishing & eeling, tend to our maara kai, go foraging, prepare hāngī, and do cooking.

The hauora space has always appealed to me because as children we were lucky to be connected to our marae and all of the things happening around it. We were taught the core values of pride, honour and respect at the marae and how to manaaki our visitors through kai and aroha. These simple values I apply to my daily mahi and hauora spaces I’m involved with.


3. What is your favourite thing about your mahi? What keeps you going?

I’m very grateful I get to do this mahi for a living. There is no greater wealth than helping our people — I couldn’t be any richer.


4. If you could change one thing for the wellbeing of whānau Māori in our rohe, what would it be?

I would give our whānau the self-belief that anything is possible regardless of our situation, especially our rangatahi. There is so much potential in the minds and hearts of our Kahungunu rangatahi. We just need to give them the tools and support to achieve it.


5. What does tino rangatiratanga mean to you in relation to health and wellbeing?

Tino rangatiratanga means being in control of our own hauora. Celebrating the smalls wins not just in physical health but in everyday things.


6. What is your favourite quote relating to health and wellness?

“Mahi don’t stop!”


To keep up to date with Jackson and the awesome mahi his team are doing at PATU Heretaunga, follow them on Facebook: PATU Heretaunga

Jackson Waerea pictured with his whānau