Tairāwhiti health professionals have listened to a call for a more effective response to mental health and addiction distress that affects too many Tairāwhiti families.
Te Kuwatawata is a unique and groundbreaking response to that call. It is about applying indigenous mātauranga (knowledge/understanding) to reframe the way we talk about a person’s experience and to find a pathway forward for people experiencing distress.
A groundswell of people – indigenous knowledge experts, local GPs, community groups and mental health professionals - have been learning about using stories to look at all the characteristics of Māori deities and how they interacted with each other. This helps us to understand our own interactions and behaviours. “Mātauranga enables us to move away from only using western ideology to categorise distress while staying critical in our thinking as health professionals. We are not abandoning western psychiatric approaches; we are just putting other principals - such as relationships and community voice - forward as an immediate response. This helps us to respond quicker, closer to where people live and most importantly this makes people feel connected, rather than disempowered.”
Te Kuwatawata has been supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Health with their “Fit for Future” Innovation Funding pool.