By: Walter Tia, John Harris and Sheryl Takiari, Ngā Pūkenga Manaaki/Navigator
On Tuesday 9 October, Mental Health Awareness week was celebrated by holding a wānanga at Whakatū Marae. Representatives from other Mental Health service providers and their tangata whaiora within Whakatū attended. For many this was their first time on the marae and an opportunity for TPO whānau to get to know what other support services are available in the community.
The majority of TPO whānau, who returned from the first wānanga, seated themselves as Tangata Whenua. As with the previous wānanga pōwhiri, the wairua that was present, was very similar with added touches of light moments, as there were a few pauses/extensions in proceedings, as visiting whānau arrived during the process. Then, purapura (name for all wānanga) was explained. Purapura is a tubular seed that reproduces underground. Just like all of us present – connection with like minded people is going to growth something within each and every one of us. Furthermore, the whakataukī “E kore au e ngaro, he kakano ahau i ruia mai i a Rangiatea” – I will never be lost - I am a seed born of greatness was the encouraging theme of the day.
After the kapu ti, mihimihi was held, and a discussion started regarding whānau access to counselling and the increase of peer support workers within the industry. Information and views regarding these topics, were freely shared within this forum. The consensus view being that the pathway to accessing counselling needed to be less complicated as well as the shortage of counselors in general is very concerning. Regarding Peer Support Workers, the general view was that an increase of kaimahi with life experience is definitely warranted and needed. It was felt that these kaimahi, would sincerely empathise with the tangata whaiora due to their own personal experience, thus creating an atmosphere of warmth and understanding within the industry as a whole, for all the future service users. After tina, five groups were created and a brainstorming session was held. As with the previous wānanga, the opportunity for our service user whānau to voice their thoughts and opinions was eagerly grasped and run with, at an alarming rate. The majority of the topics/ideas presented back by rōpu, were around Peer Led Support Groups, Connecting/Building Stronger Community Relationships and Mental Health Services for Māori and Pākehā into the 21st Century.
Overall, the wānanga achieved the purposes that they had be intended for. The barriers regarding cultural identity, for our whānau had been severely weakened.Though negative thoughts may return, regarding their cultural relationship. They will never forget the wairua aroha that they felt during these two wānanga. Especially the strength it provided them to koha their thoughts and ideas openly to the rest of the whānau regarding their experiences within the Mental Health Services. I am reminded of two thoughts that come to mind when reflecting on these wānanga and they are - "Sometimes God moves mountains one pebble at a time" and..."It doesn’t matter what measurement of forward momentum you make, it is all progress".
The biggest thing that we can do to ensure that the forward momentum, that we have gained from these wānanga, doesn’t dissipate into nothingness. It is to ensure that we do, effective and efficient follow-up. Ensuring that our whānau receive feedback regarding their feedback to these wānanga and remind them that this program is for their benefit.Therefore, the content within these wānanga will be led by them. Regarding the network connections we have made with the other NGOs within the industry we need to ensure that we continue to strengthen these connections.
No reira koutou ngā manaakitanga o te runga rawa.
Ngā mihi nui
Na Walter ratou ko John, ko Sheryl