Māori students want better mental health support at uni

By Jessica Tyson

Māori students from AUT University have spoken out to say they want more support for mental health services in next week’s budget announcement.

Māori liaison officer Kelly-Aroha Huata of Ngāti Kahungunu says her students are often facing issues to do with their well-being and more mental health support is needed to help tauira build resilience.

“I think our tauira put so much pressure on themselves to be great and do great things that when it doesn’t work out they don’t know how to bounce back from it”.

Education student Ashley Kirkness agrees.

“Here at uni alone there’s not enough services surrounding mental health so hearing that there’s potentially more money that’s being funneled out there into Women’s Refuge, into mental health areas, that would be amazing,” says Kirkness.

Keani Erstich-Coles of Ngāti Rangi says she’s happy with this week's pre-budget announcement of $76mil in extra funding for family violence services.

“Where I’m from in Northland, family violence is a big problem," she says.

“In the past it’s kind of been shunted aside and no one’s really talked about it.  So I’m glad that they’ve become aware of it and they’re making funding available for it”.

Keani’s younger brother Rawhiti Erstich-Coles says there needs to be more focus on how the money is distributed.

“That’s a problem within itself.  No one really understanding what money is being put towards and why.  I think there needs to be more conversation around that”.

Renata White of Ngāti Tama and Tainui agrees and says, “Money is where opportunities lead”.

“Knowing who best to utilise it – I think those discussions need to be in place”.