15 Apr 2021

Wellbeing programme extended to schools in five more DHBs

7:42 pm on 15 April 2021

By Kirsty Frame

A mental health and wellbeing programme for primary and intermediate school children will be expanded to five new district health board (DHB) areas.

Jacinda Ardern makes Mana Ake announcement, Manurewa, 15 April

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at Homai School in Manurewa. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The government announced today that Mana Ake would be rolled out to schools in the Northland, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and West Coast DHBs.

Mana Ake was established in 2018 in Canterbury and Kaikōura in response to the trauma some children were experiencing after the earthquakes in 2010/2011 and 2016.

Since then more than 7000 children have received support.

Announcing the wider rollout of the programme at Homai School in Manurewa today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the time was right for more schools to be included.

"Based on feedback that we have had from schools, parents, and young people, Mana Ake is a programme we should make available more widely."

Mana Ake provides resources and support for teachers to help their students who are dealing with things like bullying, parental separation, grief and loss.

Individual schools will collaborate with DHBs and other community groups on how the programme will work.

Health Minister Andrew Little said that allowed for tailored approaches to meet the different needs of different communities.

Homai School Principal Rosina Wakaira.

Rosina Wakaira. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Homai School Principal Rosina Wakaira said it was essential the programme be a collaboration between staff, students, and whānau.

"We don't want it to become something where someone comes and does it for us, then leaves, and we're left high and dry", she said.

Homai School head girl Briana Diaz, 10, said her teachers were already good at helping her classmates when they had problems.

Briana was glad her teachers would be getting more support to help more children who needed it.

"It's going to be really good to see every single kid walking on the street with a big smile on their face", she said.

Homai School head girl Briana Diaz, 10.

Briana Diaz. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Counties Manukau DHB chair Mark Gosche said the rollout would take about six months in his area.

The government has not yet put a timeframe on when Mana Ake will be rolled out to the rest of the country.