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Māhuri Tōtara 2023

Support workers from all around Aotearoa New Zealand gathered in Wellington for Māhuri Tōtara, the national support workers' summit, on 13 June 2023. This was the first Māhuri Tōtara since 2018, with the events between 2018 and this year having been unfortunately prevented by Covid-19.

Māhuri Tōtara is an important and rare opportunity for support workers to share their experiences, learn from each other, develop new connections, solidify existing collaborations, and celebrate the contributions of support work across mental health and addiction services.

Around 100 people attended from all corners of the motu, and speakers and presenters similarly covered a wide range of issues. Memo Musa from Platform Atamira set the scene for the day, talking through their role and their mahi in supporting community providers and the support workforce. Arthur Ashby and Craig Henare from He Waka Tapu in Christchurch, and recipients of Te Rau Ora scholarships, discussed their kaupapa Māori approach in the delivery of addiction services. Several Vaka Tautua support workers, including Argentina Fatilofa, Lovine Laulu, and Marion Paoo, inspired the audience with their authentic and personal stories and approaches to support work in Pasifika communities - and kept the energy in the room by getting everyone on their feet to sing and dance.

Part of the afternoon was dedicated to professional development, not least of which is the necessity for support workers to keep strong focus on their own wellbeing and to build resilience. The importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to support work was also emphasised. A highlight of the day was the wānanga with speakers, during which smaller groups could speak in greater depth about the issues they faced in their roles and workshop with their colleagues.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington provided a great location for the event, even necessitating the closing of blinds due to the sparkling sunshine coming through the windows. The team at Te Pou very much looks forward to the next Māhuri Tōtara. Let's keep the momentum going into the future to develop an even stronger and more effective support workforce for all tāngata whai ora.

Read the evaluation report from Māhuri Tōtara National Support Workers' Summit
Mahuri totara image collage

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