Mātauranga Māori-based mental health endeavour extends helping hand

By Stefan Dimitrof

Three landmark Whānau Ora projects launched in Tāmaki Makaurau earlier today with Minister Peeni Henare doing the honours.

Te Aka Matua Service, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency's covid research report and the ground zero integrated, wraparound health response with Health NZ, were unveiled in a ceremony in Henderson. 

Henare said whānau had been struggling with gaining help for mental health through the pandemic and it had taken “far too long".

"That is why this government is building a whole new mental health system.”

“Now there are real by-Māori, for-Māori services opening up across Aotearoa for the first time, like Te Aka Matua here in Auckland. I want to commend the excellent work of these kaupapa Māori providers and use this occasion to acknowledge these unique services.”

Henare said the government wanted services that were more culturally inclusive for Māori.

“Our people are much more likely to reach out for support, and may find the experience more positive than more general models.”

'Developing for people'

The funding for these services is coming from the nearly half a billion dollars set aside by the government's budget in 2019 creating more access and more choice for primary health and addiction support.

A predominant feature of the new healthcare services such as Te Aka Matua is the structure has been created and designed with kaupapa Māori and is run using a mātauranga Māori framework.

Henare said the service was intended to be the first point of contact “for tangata whaiora Māori with mild to moderate mental health or addiction needs”.

"This kaupapa is incredibly important because we know Māori have struggled over the years to get the support they need."

Henare said this was an exciting kaupapa for people in Tāmaki Makaurau who might not have found or received the right support or had access to the right programme.