Tauranga Moana community band together to stop suicide

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

A music concert to raise awareness and prevention of suicide, Into the Light – ASAP, is underway in Tauranga. Out of their own pockets, the local community banded together to run the event, sparked by several suicide deaths in the region over the last three months.

Tauranga Moana are making a noise to prevent suicide death.

In May, Wahia Walker-Poroa lost her 20-year old sister, Phoenix, and an aunt to suicide. That spurred her whānau to address it.

"If we can save at least just one life today or tomorrow then all of this is worth it," said Walker-Poroa.

A coroner's report released this week shows that Tauranga has the highest statistics ever in the last eight years. Organisers are concerned as the population increases in Tauranga, so will suicide deaths.

"It's real mamae (sad) to think about it, that you know there's a lot of vulnerable people," said Walker-Poroa.

Te Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell said, "Regardless of the positive or negative of any report, if one person dies through suicide, that's one too many."

Iwi and community groups say raising aspects of identity, social, environment and finances will make a difference. 

"The important message is for people to find balance in these four areas," said Reno Tuanau, environment facilitator for Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi Trust.

"Each aspect brings healing, well-being for the spirit and uplifts people so they can thrive."

"The community will receive the benefits using strategies created by the community themselves, such as discussing solutions collectively and not keeping silent or hiding the issue," said Flavell.

Next Sunday is World Suicide Prevention day and organisers hope Tauranga whānau affected by suicide will take time to commemorate their loved ones.