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Smokefree Tairawhiti Reinvigorates Group

Smokefree Tairawhiti Reinvigorates Group

Making Smokefree Tairawhiti an identifiable regional brand is just one dynamic project a dedicated group of health workers wants to help with this year.

World Smokefree Day on Wednesday 31 May marks the resurgence of Taki Tahi Toa Mano, a group who for the past two years has been quietly and steadfastly laying the foundations for a Smokefree Tairawhiti.

Member, Pania Ruakere of Tairawhiti District Health, says the group is a quiet mainstay of smokefree promotion in the district, but now it’s about to “shift up a gear”.

“While we continue to do lots of behind-the-scenes work researching local smoking statistics and advising groups on smokefree initiatives, this year we will be making a bigger impact on the community.”

The first step the group is taking towards a Smokefree Tairawhiti is joining with the Health Sponsorship Council on an initiative to prevent people starting to smoke. The campaign is in the discussion phase and aimed at young girls.

“Secondly, making Smokefree Tairawhiti a regional brand and a reality is a lofty ambition but one that Taki Tahi Toa Mano would like to help with,” says Ms Ruakere.

Taki Tahi Toa Mano has been buoyed by radical steps a Maori anti-smoking group took recently when it won a rare public apology from a global giant in the tobacco industry.

The head of tobacco company Philip Morris issued an unprecedented apology to Maori during a shareholders meeting in New York for using Maori images on its packaging. The apology came after Director of Te Reo Marama Shane Kawenata Bradbrook, of Ngai Tamanuhiri and Rongowhakaata descent, travelled to the meeting specifically to raise his concerns.

Mr Bradbrook has taken an interest in Taki Tahi Toa Mano and wants it to take a leadership role in the district and initiate more smokefree action such as hosting events targeting the tobacco industry and attracting public attention.

“Eventually you need a leader to lead. This is where we are going now and do you want to feed into it? You can look at the statistics, you can look at the issues, but it’s a no-brainer. Let’s just do it,” Mr Bradbrook says.

The theme for this year’s World Smokefree Day on Wednesday 31 May is ‘Wishing for a Smokefree World’. Considering tobacco smoking kills around 4700 New Zealanders every year, Ms Ruakere says now is the time for that wish to become a reality.


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