Kaikohe moves to protect their youth

By Taroi Black

The community of Kaikohe has opened up a new space that will support youth aged 12 to 24 years in an attempt to help prevent suicide in Northland.

Te Uma o Te Kona (The Bosom of Te Kona) is an acknowledgement to historic Ngāpuhi leader Hone Heke's mother, Te Kona.

A Kaikohe youth named Temepara Hita says, “This house will be a beacon of hope for our youth, especially for those of us who come straight out of school without jobs.”

The leaders of the new initiative hope the characteristics of Te Kona's maternal nature will provide a safe place for youth and play a part in solving issues like suicide.

A youth advocate, Aroha Tahere says, “Our focus is around prevention. Early intervention will provide a process whereby we are able to intervene a lot earlier without the kids taking on board that serious stuff. So our job will be the early intervention prevention space.”

"Perhaps this building will help change negative thinking into positive thinking because there are pool tables here and other forms of entertainment," says Temepara.

For the last nine years, Northland has had a total of 193 suicides. 

52 of those were youth aged 10-24, with 2013 having the highest annual rate at 29 suicides.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says, “The Mana Party supports this cause just like Mike King’s initiative which took him around the country as an advocate to prevent suicide within our young communities.”

Also bringing their solutions to the issue are those running in the race for the Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis says, “The Labour Party wants to help and support those families who live in poverty and give them an income on a weekly basis as well.

The centre is a collaboration between the local community, iwi and regional organisations.