Minister recognises Te Kuwatawata development, funding extended to 2019

13 September 2018

The Minister and the Ministry of Health team have recognised the significant effort applied to ensure the development of mental health services in Te Tairāwhiti through Te Kūwatawata, our community-based pilot of a new entry point for services.

This is a joint venture between Te Kupenga Net Trust, Pinnacle Midland Health Network and Hauora Tairāwhiti. This service has been operating for a comparatively short time frame and evaluation already shows benefits developing, with more work occurring at the service develops.

In a statement by Hauora Tairāwhiti Chief Executive Jim Green, he said 'We are therefore very pleased to let you know there has been an extension period approved until June 2019 to ensure sufficient time is provided to ensure the bedding in of service can be as complete as possible. This will also mean the external evaluation of the service will also be complete and be able to inform any future service development. This timeframe fits with the current national review of Mental Health services and allows for decisions coming out of that to inform the future development of services in Te Tairāwhiti'.

The announcement of the funding extension has been made today and we will have definite details of that in the coming days so can confirm arrangements going forward for the next 9 months.

Te Kuwatawata is a unique and groundbreaking response to the distressed call from the Tairāwhiti community. 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, says Mental Health Head of Department Dr Diana Kopua.

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 principles - 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.”