Kaiti School students transform community space to smoke-free zone

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Kaiti School in Gisborne has challenged the community to make the Kaiti Mall smoke-free and succeeded.  The model for community change will be used at the International Indigenous Health Promotion Conference in Rotorua in 2019.

Merearahi Davis, a student at Kaiti School says, “Since the Kaiti Mall is such a big part of our Kaiti community we thought it was in need of an upgrade so we thought making smoke-free it would be a more positive environment for everyone”.

Kaiti Mall is right across the road from Kaiti School, students have taken up the responsibility to make it a school-friendly environment.

Student Mika Goldsmith says, “I love that the mall is going to be smoke-free.  I now won't have to breathe in the yucky air when I walk past”.

Chairman of the Ka Pai Kaiti Trust, Aporina Chapman says, “Every now and then the school will come over to tidy it up, and just having the kids presence in the mall just raises that whole awareness again with whānau visiting the mall”.

Kaiti School gained the support of the Tairāwhiti Smokefree coalition group and the Ka Pai Kaiti Trust, who then presented to The Gisborne District Regional Council and, in due course, the change was implemented.

Chapman says it’s now in the hands of community members to ensure that the policy is adhered to.

“We also have other kōhanga reo at the back, we have other early childcare centres close-by.  A lot of the work actually lies or sits with the whānau living here so they've actually been the support behind the changes that have occurred,” says Chapman.

The model will be presented by Ka Pai Kaiti at the International Indigenous Health Promotion Conference in February 2019.