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Raukura Hauora O Tainui


posted by Alastair McLean on 4 April 2012

In 2004 Raukura Hauora O Tainui and its alcohol and drug rehabilitation service, Te Ara Hou, was highly commended by the Whānau Ora Awards judges for a new initiative – Te Aka a Tane.

This was an initiative designed to help clients who had completed a 12-week residential alcohol and drug programme by providing whānau opportunities to be part of the client’s journey of discovery in recovery.

Te Ara Hou was an independent Māori organisation established as a specialist drug and alcohol rehabilitation service in 1989.  In 1997 Te Ara Hou had merged with Raukura Hauora O Tainui, but retained its name and ‘brand’.

The service delivered by Te Ara Hou then, as it is today, was underpinned by Te Toi o te Mataariki, an ‘awakening model’ where successful recovery involves ascending to the highest point of the whare wānanga where the best view of the world is gained.  In Te Toi o te Mataariki, the journey of recovery starts in the darkness of the mind, Te Pō and triumphs in the world of light, Te Ao Marama.

Te Ara Hou general manager Wiremu Walmsley reiterates that Te Ao Mārama is the ultimate goal in the successful recovery of the men who join the residential programme. 

‘When the men come on to the programme, a facilitator helps them identify where they’re at.  Te Pō is total darkness and we do get men who really are in this place. But others may be at different stages on a journey to recovery and the facilitator helps each client identify where they are and how they can move to Te Ao Mārama.’

Te Aka a Tane acknowledged that recovery is a continual journey that can be supported by an informed whānau and community.  It was an important initiative that has subsequently been incorporated in different ways into both the residential and community alcohol and drug programmes delivered by Te Ara Hou.

The seven-day, 24/7 residential programme is provided for up to 20 Māori men aged 18 or more.  Wiremu describes whānau involvement as an important aspect of the programme.

‘It’s what Te Aka a Tane was about too, involving the whole whānau. There is no use having individuals come on to the programme, do a lot of work on themselves and then return to environments where there has been no change, or where they are unconnected to their whānau. A big part of our mahi is whānau integration.’

A number of mainstream drug and alcohol organisations have small Māori units attached to them, but Wiremu said Te Ara Hou is the only kaupapa Māori drug and alcohol programme for men.

‘While ‘addiction’ and ‘recovery’ are essentially the same anywhere, the way we deliver our service is different.  Our service is delivered from a kaupapa Māori perspective.  As we did in Te Aka a Tane we use the forest, the bush, the sea and rongoā as part of the recovery.  We also reconnect our men to their whakapapa, giving them the opportunity to research their families and go back to their kaumātua and kuia to get some of that history.  It’s all part of integrating them back into their whānau and wider communities,’ said Wiremu. 

‘Some of the men also wonder what learning to do the taiaha or the patu has to do with recovery.   But it’s about physical activity; it’s about coordination; it’s about team work; and it’s about pride and mana.  So they learn that on their journey as well because they’re learning in a kaupapa Māori environment.

‘We also have a whānau after-care service which gives our men the opportunity for group work once they have graduated from our service.  They can come together and kōrero.  Whānau are welcome to join this as well.  This service also does follow-ups with client and whānau, whether it’s a phone call or visit; just to see how they’re getting on.’

Raukura Hauora O Tainui offers a range of mental health and addictions services to individuals and whānau, incorporating a tikanga Māori approach.

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