Opening speech to Early Intervention Psychosis National Training WanangaHealth
Tena tatou, e whakarauika nei i raro i te mana o nga tupuna rangatira o Ngati Porou. Tena koutou o Te Whanau o Ruataupare ki Tokomaru, koutou e awhi nei i era o tatou e mauiui ana i tenei ao hurihuri.
Huri noa i tenei whare tupuna tena tatou kua hono mai i tenei ra.
I would like to thank Ngati Porou Hauora particularly the Mental Health Team for inviting me to open this wananga.
I note in the information you sent me that you offer a holistic health service to all the residents on the East Coast.
You are an excellent example of an iwi who offer your services to manuhiri, that is, people who are not of Ngati Porou. You are not the only example, because we, of Whanganui, do exactly the same.
I know that the mental health within Ngati Porou has recently taken a big leap forward, a big factor in this has no doubt been because of the spiritual uplifting you have had as a result of the feats and exploits of the Ngati Porou East Coast Rugby Team.
I also understand that after the Hawkes Bay game you suggested an alternative to ‘God Save the Queen’ as the national anthem and having installed Paikea as your anthem.
That is no doubt, why few of you stood when the national anthem was played in Hawkes Bay with many of you commenting that you had performed the National Anthem when the Natis ran on to the field.
What I need to tell you however, is that yours is not the first rugby team to be called after it’s iwi, in fact there is this team called Whanganui, there is also an iwi called Whanganui and there is a river called Whanganui.
Sadly, we will not be playing you next year because we got relegated and I am lead to believe that the women of Ngati Porou had a lot to do with that. I am told that when the bus was waiting for the Whanganui players the day after, only six could be found.
I have travelled the country, listened to and spoken with many Maori mental health workers and I have been impressed with the extremely sophisticated methods you adopt in early intervention and healing.
What is so sophisticated about what you do, is the fact that you recognise the totality of the environment in which you work and the impact that environment has on mental health. That I suppose is what you mean by holistic.
Over the last couple of weeks I have become acutely aware that external pressures and influences can quickly impact on one’s state of mental health.
My whanau identified in me a willingness to represent issues that may in some circles not be considered ‘flavour of the month’. They acted smartly and placed me amongst those who could assist and guide me throughout the endeavours of my life.
Some of those people are still with us, others are gone, however, their guidance and encouragement, remains with me and with my whanau.
I believe this is the true meaning of ‘early intervention’. It is a smart, active and positive approach to achieving healthy whanau and it is I know, the approach you have chosen to take here on the Coast.
All of you here at this conference, have fought to establish better mental health services, and what normally happens is that you fight all odds to get a quality service. Having achieved it, you quickly realise that even that, is not good enough.
Once you have established the vision of better early treatment for people with psychosis, just like Maui, you seek out new horizons.
You start to think, as you hear these young people’s stories, how to prevent them becoming unwell. You realise there are more fundamental issues to be addressed.
Sophisticated analysis doesn’t just focus on what is, but also includes what should be.
One of the most difficult things in life is to keep things simple. Often the most efficient pieces of machinery are constructed in the most simple ways.
Sophisticated systems whether it be in Central Business District in Wellington or the Central Business District in Waima, are systems that operate without complications, without hierachies, without control freaks.
We often rationalise that the issues are too complex and so we don’t try to change an ineffective system.
We get stuck in the mire of the problem and by doing so we give the problem strength. What we need to do e hoa ma, is to look up from the mire to the mountain and remember the sophistication of simplicity.
Environmental factors have immense influence on our health and wellbeing. External forces can impact negatively on us personally and on our whanau, creating sickness.
There are too many of our young people becoming unwell, some of them are my cousins, and some of them are your cousins.
When we hear young people saying that they feel ‘stink’. Where is the ‘stink’ from? Is it from within the young people. Or is the smell and the ‘stink’ from outside?
Are they born stink? Sophisticated people are able to identify the source of the ‘stink’, and they can only do so, by walking with the people.
What really matters is how we can best make the difference. Mao Tse Tung promoted barefoot doctors. Maori too have their barefoot workers, some I hear are literally barefoot. Choosing to wear or not wear shoes is one way of exercising your rangatiratanga.
What does early intervention mean? I would be interested to hear from you what it means for you.
Intervention in the early stages of psychosis is a force for hope because the earlier that psychosis is identified and treated, the better the outcomes will be for the affected individual and their whanau.
I know that early intervention on the Coast includes working with whanau in their own home, working in schools with our young people.
The challenge for us is to find creative ways, both to support young people and to create space to allow them to challenge and be in an environment that is safe, to question the ‘truths’ they are confronted with.
Sometimes our children can teach us so much and yet we are guilty of being poor students. We often fail to recognise the lessons they teach and yet the Maori word ‘ako’ means both ‘learn’ and ‘teach’.
For early intervention for young people to be effective we must listen to their experiences and not dismiss them. We must remember the intensity of experiences for young people and create environments that encourage them to lift their sights to the horizons and beyond.
Create opportunities to live a healthy life, like those I have heard about at Nga Roimata, through waka ama and through the participation of young people on the Marae and in the community.
The ability to express thoughts, feelings and issues through music and song is another critical pathway to good health.
This very place where we are meeting is a place reknown for the creation of song and the telling of a story – songs of life, loss, love, and politics.
I am confident that if I was to listen to the music created by the young people in Tokomaru Bay or any young person for that matter, what I would be hearing would be the very same things that their ancestors wrote and sang about, family relationships, love, loving, sorrow, pain and joy.
I have written a song or two in my own head over recent weeks. I do not know if they would make the top ten, but can I say, it was a healthy and rewarding exercise.
I thank you, Ngati Porou for hosting the wananga, and to all those that made the effort to come to this wananga I am sure you will find it rewarding and enjoyable.
Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.