In early November 2018, a group of twenty participants arrived at the gates of Orongomai Marae in Upper Hutt, Wellington, to participate in the Working with Māori - Module 3 noho marae training programme. This training was developed and delivered by Matua Raki, and is the final module in the series of Working with Māori modules. Module 1 and module 2 are online e-learning training and can be found here. The purpose of the modules is to increase the cultural competency of our mental health, addiction and other relevant sectors.

The participants were warmly welcomed by tangata whenua and we certainly appreciated coming into the warm wharenui after braving the harsh spring Wellington conditions that morning. The participants had travelled from around the country including; Hawke's Bay DHB, Capital and Coast DHB, Atareira in Wellington and Beth Shean Trust in Auckland. The participants had various roles in the mental health and addiction sector including; planning and funding, public health nursing, housing facilitators, and many more. 

The agenda kicked off with a presentation from Ihaia Puketapu, a local carver who delivered a powerful, informative and in-depth korero about Te Ᾱti Awa Iwi history, providing a thought-provoking discussion about contemporary Māori society and how that has been shaped.

Dean Rangihuna from Canterbury DHB delivered the second presentation about Tikanga Māori and best practice strategies when working with whānau in distress, to ensure tangata whai ora are respected and understood when experiencing mental health issues. Dean’s kōrero generated lots of questions from the group and participants welcomed his wealth of experience in this area, working in mental health organisations and in prisons for many years. The group continued to reflect on Dean’s practical examples well into the night and we felt very privileged to have Dean join us at the marae and impart his knowledge to us. Mauri Ora Dean!

After dining on a fabulous, tasty lunch of hot vegetable soup and buns, cold meats and salads, the group settled in for an afternoon of presentations, including Eboni Siueva from Blueprint who delivered Te Reo Hāpai on behalf of former Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui paeārahi leader, Keri Opai. Blueprint for Learning is New Zealand's leading provider of learning and development for people working in the mental health and social service sectors. Eboni gave a thorough presentation of the background, development and key components of this resource. Ka mau te wehi Eboni!

► Read or order a copy of Te Reo Hāpai 

The last presentation of the day was a superbly delivered, high energy te reo Māori pronunciation session. This awe-inspiring workshop garnered plenty of excitement from the participants. Krissi, a Māori language speaker who is non-Maori and derives from Scottish heritage, delivers te reo sessions through her company Kῡwaha Reo Ltd. Krissi’s presentation approached sensitive issues such as generational historical trauma from the banning of te reo in schools and barriers to learning te reo today, and also covered phonetic strategies when rolling your ‘r’ and handy hints when reading Māori words. Tau kē!

The participants were treated to an evening screening of the movie ‘The Dark Horse’, featuring Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston and directed by James Napier Robertson. It was a true honour to listen to this story of mental health, courage, strength, loss and aroha - a truly moving film.

Day two and we were back to business with a focus on Let’s get real: a framework of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes for working with people and whānau with mental health and addiction needs. The recently refreshed Let's get real has a broader scope, relevant for everyone working in health, and places a stronger emphasis on people and their wellbeing, regardless of where in health they are accessing support. 

Our newly established whānau met local mental health and addiction providers who presented an overview of their service, who makes up their team, and how referrals are made. This included Corien Simpson from MHAIDS, and Patsy Moeahu and Cody Hartley-Warbrick from Hutt Valley DHB.

Overall, the noho marae was an action-packed, culturally rich learning experience.

If you, or your organisation, are interested in completing the modules and/or would consider hosting the next Working with Māori - Module 3 noho marae, then please contact Katherine Reweti-Russell.

"Ko au te taupa, kihai i puawai i aku moemoea"
I myself am the barrier that may prevent the fruition of my dreams