May 18, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Ngati Pikiao takes a proactive role in Maori suicide

2 min read

(By Greg Taipari, Daily Post) Ngati Pikiao Trust has started a support group called Kia Piki Te Ora to help whanau through the traumatic event of suicide or self-harming. The group is a link between the health services, families and support groups. Mapihi Raharuhi is one of two co-ordinators who are working on the project.

Before joining the group, Ms Raharui had been involved with suicide prevention with the Lakes District Health Board for more than 18 months. She said the Lakes district was ninth out of the 21 health board districts for suicide and was the third highest for self-harm.

“In an analysis done in the Lakes DHB district, it showed that for Maori, suicide and self-harm was a major issue. That is why we need to have co-ordinators focusing on [these issues],” she said.

The Kia Piki Te Ora project promotes whanau health and looks at issues affecting the health and wellbeing within families.

“We are looking at issues like money and all the issues facing Maori at the moment. We are promoting that to reduce suicide. We need to be looking at these issues.”

Ms Raharuhi said the project aimed to raise awareness about the high rate of suicide and self-harm among Maori.

“Although we know it’s an issue, we tend to think it will happen to somebody else. We don’t take an active role in trying to prevent it. That’s why it’s important to have a project like this.”

Kia Piki Te Ora project leader Michael Naera said Maori were over-represented when it came to suicide because of the stigma associated with it. He said Maori were too whakama (ashamed) to ask for help, especially from other family members.

“It can even be hard for them to ask for help from their own doctors,” Mr Naera said.

“With our project we hope to break down that stigma. We hope to be able to guide people in the right direction. There is plenty of help out there but you have to know where to find it first.”

Mr Naera said he knew first-hand about the impact suicide could have on a family. He had had uncles who had committed suicide and other family members who had self-harmed.

“There were no services around at the time.

That’s why I’m so committed to the success of this project. I think it can make a real difference,” he said.

Getting Help

  • Kia Piki Te Ora is situated in the Te Runanga o Ngati Pikiao Trust’s office on Fenton St.
  • For more information contact Michael Naera on (07) 348 5384
  • The average suicide rate of Maori men is 28.4 deaths per 100,000 population, compared with 18.4 for non-Maori men.
  • The average suicide rate for Maori women is 8.3 deaths per 100,000 population, compared with 5.9 for non-Maori women.

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