Over the weekend, the first 2021 RealTalk event was held in Porirua where five influential Māori speakers shared their stories, to inspire and empower others.
The event, soon to visit Whanganui, New Plymouth and Nelson, discussed important topics including whakamomori or suicide, sexual harm and overall hauora.
Speakers included social media star Nicola ‘Nix’ Adams who has amassed a huge following by sharing her experiences of addiction, homelessness and grief through the power of social media.
Business owner Raniera Rewiri, also known as Plant Based Māori, spoke about his passion for veganism, hauora and self-development.
Co-founder of RealTalk, Tania Carr also spoke about trauma she experienced while growing up.
“The concept came from me always wanting to go back to my high school Porirua College and really reach the rangatahi who are struggling and let them know that, regardless of what they’re going through at the moment, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is somebody going through exactly what they’ve been through and we can get through this," she says.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from - it’s about where you choose to go,” she says.
Pania Te-Paiho, known for starting Wahine Toa Hunting, an organisation that teaches and empowers wahine to hunt for kai, spoke at the event about her passion to support rangatahi affected by mental health.
Carr says, “When we look at the suicide rates in our country, we had 654 deaths last year. Some 174 of them were Māori deaths and 78 of those deaths were between the ages of 10 to 25 and half of those were Māori too, so our statistics are harrowing and we need to do something about it.”
Other speakers included Jessica Tyson and Grace Matenga. Tyson is a reporter at Te Ao Māori News and founder of a sexual harm prevention charity, Brave Charitable Trust. She shared her story about healing from childhood sexual abuse.
Matenga is studying to become a naturopath and founded hauora wellness group Oho-Mai. She shared her story about experiencing hardship growing up and her passion for hauora.
Carr says it was important for rangatahi to be able to relate to the kaikōrero in some way.
“The beauty of this was that they saw themselves in the kaikōrero and they could relate, and the kaikōrero took them on a journey of the struggles that they’ve had in their past, but not only that, about how they turned their life around and that there is a success story and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is hope.”
Carr says RealTalk has received a great response since starting last year.
“Thankfully we’ve had some support from Te Puni Kōkiri to take the next three events throughout the motu and we’d love to take this RealTalk kaupapa forward throughout New Zealand to spread that message.”
Mental health: If you or someone you know needs, contact Lifeline, 0800 543 354, or the suicide crisis helpline, 0508 TAUTOKO.
Sexual harm: Contact Safetotalk via phone 0800 044 334, text 4334 or online.