PATU© Aotearoa is a health and fitness social enterprise which aims to reduce obesity and sedentary behaviours within the Indigenous people of New Zealand. The Akina Foundation selected PATU© Aotearoa as one of 11 teams to participate in a six month Social Enterprise Launchpad accelerator programme. This Launchpad provided education and mentoring to support the development and growth of social enterprises in New Zealand. As a result, PATU© Aotearoa has expanded rapidly and is developing a national franchise model for a group exercise programme designed specifically for Māori.
The group exercise programme developed by PATU© Aotearoa incorporates high intensity interval training (HIIT) and healthy lifestyle education with the aim to reduce health and social issues by inspiring Māori to lead more active and enriching lives. PATU© Aotearoa differs from other fitness regimes in that the philosophy, aims, design and operation of the company are informed by traditional Māori knowledge, incorporating tikanga Māori (custom), te reo (language) and local tradition and history. Traditionally, a patu was a weapon used by Māori warriors to attack and hit the enemy and to protect whānau (family).
The founders of PATU© Aotearoa are passionate about bringing social change to traditionally under-served, hard to reach communities thereby fighting against the health inequities that persist for Māori in New Zealand. Underpinning this is the commitment to demonstrate results through research which occurs through a research partnership with academics at the Eastern Institute of Technology. The research has found that those attending PATU© Aotearoa connect with the concept of the warrior and each other, establishing whanaungatanga (connectedness). This strong sense community (common unity) empowers the PATU© Aotearoa whānau, both individually and collectively, to take ownership of their health and wellbeing while embracing traditional Māori values.
At the end of the six month Launchpad, votes were cast and of the 11 teams, PATU© Aotearoa was announced as the overall and People’s Choice winner. Since then, PATU© Aotearoa has been extensively showcased as a successful social enterprise model and has gained regular positive media attention and continued collaborative relationships with health care providers, regional councils and education providers.