Rural Maori mental health services receive boost from ministry

Tokomairiro Waiora Incorporated staff (from left) Jo Kingi, Hoani Wipaki, Tia Potae and John...
Tokomairiro Waiora Incorporated staff (from left) Jo Kingi, Hoani Wipaki, Tia Potae and John Sayles at the Maori health and social service provider’s Milton headquarters. PHOTO: MINISTRY FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES/SUPPLIED
Counselling services for rural Maori in South Otago will receive a funding boost this week.

The Ministry for Primary Industries stepped in to fund counselling services for rural Maori with addiction and mental health issues in the district after a local provider alerted it to funding issues.

The ministry is funding Maori health and social service provider Tokomairiro Waiora Incorporated with $54,000 to secure the future of its programme until April 2022.

Ministry director of Maori agribusiness Andrew McConnell said the service’s counselling workshops provided participants, whanau and hapu, with tools and support to help improve wellbeing and resilience.

"Our financial support will enable this service to continue in the short term while the organisation investigates long-term funding."

The money will also be used to run health workshops in Milton and Lawrence for shearers and their whanau, and to run three wananga [educational courses] to encourage young people into careers in the primary sector.

The courses will include on-farm experience and learning.

"The wananga will focus on shearing, which is a big employer in the area. We hope it will help address the current shortage of shearers. Careers in agriculture and forestry will also be promoted," Tokomairiro Waiora manager Jo Kingi said.

"The wananga will also offer wellbeing support, and meditation, budgeting, literacy and life skills.

"Some rangatahi [young people] in the sector struggle due to mental health issues and poor life choices outside of work."

It was hoped at least 20 young people would attend each course, taking place in April, May and July.

Funding for the new initiative was provided in Budget 2020.

The ministry was allocated $1.1million over three years to deliver extra wellbeing and support services complementing those already provided by rural support trusts.

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