Groundbreaking Maori youth programme celebrates achievements and gets scrapped :(

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Today marks the conclusion of the Mental Health Foundations Manawaora o Nga Taiohi programme and the Foundation would like to take this opportunity to celebrate its achievements.

Manawaora O Nga Taiohi is a Maori-based programme that addressed the mental health needs and wellbeing of young Maori men and their whanau living within the Canterbury and West Coast regions and had a particular focus on those vulnerable to suicide.


Canterbury and the West Coast have some of the highest suicide statistics in New Zealand, particularly for young Maori, so the dedicated programme aimed to help participants strengthen known protective factors such as cultural identity, resilience and belonging.

The young men and women would stay overnight on a marae and take part in a variety of activities including learning taiaha, the haka and developing personal goals, all intended to build pride and self confidence in a cultural setting. The activities also help address their physical, spiritual and emotional needs.

The programme was funded by Te Puni Kokiri and several other departments. For the past 18 months, the Mental Health Foundation has been seeking replacement funding for this programme but has been unsuccessful.

In 2009 a highly positive review was completed by Te Rau Matatini, an organisation supporting Maori workforce development, in which many of the successes of the project were highlighted by both participants and researchers. Amongst other commendations the review noted that rangatahi engaged in help seeking behaviours through continuous participation in wananga and that the programme achieved commitment from typically hard t reach participants through building trust and being honest with the participants.

Manawaora o Nga Taiohi developed self-esteem, strengthened and acknowledged the importance of cultural identity and provided Maori youth with positive role models, says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. The programme was run with, and generated a lot of pride amongst rangatahi and this is something?everyone involved in the programme are enormously proud of.

The Mental Health Foundation acknowledges the significant contribution made by all Manawaora o Nga Taiohi staff and the wh?nau of these staff who provided support throughout the duration of the programme.

Key Strengths of Manawa ora o Nga Taiohi Wananga include:

  • kaupapa Maori service delivery;
  • use of traditional Maori knowledge that applies to the daily realities of rangatahi;
  • Maori knowledge perceived as valid by rangatahi;
  • enhancement of cultural identity of rangatahi;
  • increased confidence and self-esteem of rangatahi;
  • strong links with the community, support services, and iwi networks;
  • increased social support networks;
  • improved relationships with whanau members through wananga participation;
  • marae based learning environment;
  • improved behaviours for rangatahi who have continual involvement with Manawa ora o nga Taiohi; and
  • transferable skills learnt during wananga were applicable in other settings such as School

TangataWhenua.com is awaiting statements from the Ministry of Youth Development and the Mental Health Foundation as to why this programme was scrapped. We’ll keep you updated.

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