Māoritanga mental health approach launched in Rotorua

10:56 am on 1 August 2021

New kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services in Rotorua aim to transform lives in the central North Island.

Koon Chakhatrakan

Rotorua. Photo: Unsplash / Koon Chakhatrakan

The Poutama Ora strategy service was launched in Lake Ōkareka by Whānau Ora minister, Peeni Henare on Friday.

The new kaupapa Māori primary mental health and addiction service will deliver the services across Rotorua and Taupō and will be run by Te Arawa Whānau Ora and Korowai Aroha Charitable Trust.

Tūwharetoa Health Charitable Trust will deliver the service in Taupō.

Te Arawa Whānau Ora are responsible for two new programmes - Ngā Kaihautū and Mango Tū funded through the government's $455 million investment to increase access to mental health and addiction services.

The Ngā Kaihautū programme is for men and connects them back to their Māoritanga, reclaiming their identity.

The Mango Tū programme, for rangatahi, is to support them to create aspirations for a prosperous future.

The community based Poutama Ora service is intended to be the first point of contact for people experiencing mild to moderate mental distress or addiction issues.

One of the participating tāne, Sam Runga, has navigated his way through Te Arawa Whānau Ora's rehabilitation programmes.

"I enrolled in the men's group to further my hauora hīkoi. I was especially keen to learn about Māoritanga and do traditional kowhaiwhai. It's a more calming and healthier alternative to help me deal with my deepest emotions and get through the day," Runga said.

Runga grew up in a gang-affiliated whānau, and said he was no stranger to violence.

He has battled with anger, addiction and depression - but he was determined to turn his life around.

"I'm still unlearning the bad stuff I was brought up with, but the programme changes mindsets and habits. Passion from my younger days was reignited through waka and getting healthy and fit again.

"I know that no matter what life throws at me now, I can get through anything. My lessons in life need to be passed on. If I can help just one person, that's something isn't it?" Runga said.

There are now seven dedicated kaupapa Māori services contracted to deliver support with more expected to be funded.

Within the funding for kaupapa Māori primary mental health and addiction services, there is allocation for established Māori providers, known as the tuakana stream.

A second, the teina stream, is an 'incubator' for new or smaller Māori providers with propositions that are developed, but would benefit from further support.

Te Arawa Whānau Ora chair, Te Ururoa Flavell, said health needs may include - but are not limited to - mental health, addictions, long-term conditions, nutrition, physical activity, pain management, health literacy, pregnancy, and quitting smoking.

"These are all issues that can prevent whānau from taking care of their health and wellness, so it's important for Te Arawa Whānau Ora to provide quality programmes, underpinned by mātauranga Māori to help enrich the lives of our people," Flavell said.

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