Meth addiction service launched in Murupara, plans to rollout across eastern BOP

By Kelvin McDonald

Meth addiction programme Te Ara Oranga is now available in Murupara, with plans for the harm reduction services to be expanded to other eastern Bay of Plenty communities, including Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki and Kawerau.

Te Ara Oranga was successfully piloted in Northland and has now been introduced in this new region, Health Minister Andrew Little said Friday.

Little says the eastern Bay of Plenty region has been identified as a community experiencing a high level of drug-related harm, with higher than average meth use or possession offences, wastewater testing results, and people seeking help to get on top of drug addictions.

He says the government is committed to a health-based response for those who experience drug addiction.

"Making the benefits of Te Ara Oranga available to in the eastern Bay of Plenty is part of that,” Little said in a statement.

“Te Ara Oranga is a unique partnership between police, mental health and addiction services, community groups, and iwi service providers. It gives methamphetamine users the opportunity to get culturally-appropriate therapeutic help with an approach specially tailored for the local community.

“It has been shown to reduce drug-related harm and support better community health, improved social wellbeing including re-engagement with whānau and employment, and better justice outcomes including reduced family violence and crime."

Little says more than 3,000 Northland people and their whānau have been helped since the programme was first started there.

“Te Ara Oranga was successfully piloted in Northland and has been acknowledged as a game-changer in the fight against methamphetamine and drug-related crime.

“It’s an example of a community-wide and led programme that works and changes lives and we want more New Zealanders to benefit from it,” he said.

The Green Party is calling for the programme to be expanded nationwide.

“Te Ara Oranga has shown that it can reduce drug harm through targeted community projects, and there is no good reason why these services cannot be made available right across the country,” Green drug law reform spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said.

“We have spent good money after bad for 40-plus years on mainstream punitive approaches and it has only made things worse for our communities. It is time to roll out an evidence-based public health approach to meth harm as the proven best possible way to reduce harm among our communities."