Māori organisations band together to combat suicide

By Talisa Kupenga

Māori organisations in the Counties Manukau community are banding together to erase suicide in the region with a tikanga Māori approach. It's the first Memorandum of Collaboration (MOC) of its kind in the country and was signed today by nearly twenty government and non-government organisations to build strength in numbers to tackle the issue.

A gathering to help enrich people's lives with the goal of ending suicide.

Suicide recovery coach Rose Heta-Minhinnick says "It's bringing them all together under the same kaupapa (vision), under the same umbrella, for the well-being and benefit of our people. It's important because Māori know what's best for Māori. We can relate and we can understand and talk to each other.”

Last year New Zealand suicides reached a record high of 579 deaths, with Māori continuing to lead figures by ethnic group. Heta-Minhinnick attempted suicide on two separate occasions when she was postnatally depressed. She received assistance after her father reported her behaviour.

Heta-Minhinnick says, “I was under the influence of alcohol and my emotions were out of whack it just seem to all bombard me just from one little incident. The second time I was emotionally imbalanced because of my hormones. I had just had twins and was carrying but I wasn't aware that I was pregnant at the time so what I thought was normal behaviour actually wasn't."

Those at the signing say a collective approach is crucial.

Papakura Marae chief executive Tony Kake says, "My goal is that each family has one person or figurehead to uplift this cause and through this those families in need can access that support."

Counties Manukau representatives hope other communities consider taking this approach.