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Successful Lifestyle Programmes Just For Men


June 3, 2008

Successful Lifestyle Programmes Just For Men, Run By Men

Three years ago a group of Waikato men made plans to help men redefine their lives using a male perspective, resulting in a successful pilot scheme consisting of two outreach programmes funded by Waikato Primary Health.

The men's programme is called Te Hikoi o Nga Tane/The Walk of Men (THONT) and is for men aged 18 over whom, for one reason or another have not received the "tools" needed to negotiate seasons of life. THONT targets men who have a history of not engaging in health services. The youth programme is called Whanake (meaning 'Evolution') and is for male students aged between 12 to 15 years.

Mihaka Hohua, manager of Pai Ake Solutions Limited (PASL) says restoring a sense of pride and purpose in men while creating overall well being within youth has largely been the focus of the team.

"These men have been flying under the radar. But through our men's programme we have helped provide the groundwork for health education including substance abuse, strategies for developing successful relationships with partners and peers, through to the responsibilities of fatherhood and roles within employment," says Hohua.

"Men leave our programme with tools to use like conflict management - how to control emotions - right down to understanding their sexuality. We aren't there to fix wrongs, and we're not a dumping ground either, but rather we celebrate being male."

Hohua says men need to understand their loss of 'right of passage.' He also says historically men used to go away and sit around an open fire, and that's where they would talk.

"The world is instantaneous these days. Many males find satisfaction within the isolation of the electronic world – like televisions and computers – and this type of environment offers some men a sense of fulfillment. Some young males historically used to be taken away by older men and taught their role in their society like how to act appropriately with the opposite sex and how to interact positively within their communities.

"Violence today is seen as inappropriate, yet the world's media portray a violent world with a very negative aspect. Societies have a need for this aggressive emotion on suitable occasions but violence used negatively is totally destructive. Education about how to use this action appropriately is key.

According to Hohua aggression for males is seen as a negative, yet aggression is an emotion used healthily on multiple levels within individual communities. He also says anger is another emotion that stands alone yet many say that violence, aggression and anger are one in the same. Yet in the THONT program each of those areas has a purpose.

"Many men in today's world find solos in being very submissive and escape inside themselves and agree with everything – that's not productive for anyone either," Hohua says.

Basic family values that have disappeared are now being restored in some families like men learning the value of sitting with their families at the dinner table, and learning to talk with their partner and children, he says.

The Whanake programme is run for 10 weeks and is target at young males that are wishing to move pass what current educative and social environments offer to our young males. Whanake has found a niche currently within the high schools throughout the Waikato region.

Hohua says those youth participating in the Whanake project normally feel they have been sent to the programme because of their bad behaviour but he tries to make the experience positive for each person.

"Young men are often incorrectly labeled as having, 'anger management issues.' From my experience, the biggest issue with a lot of males is they just don't know how to fit into their communities! They don't know what their responsibilities or roles are, like how to be good young men. There are responsibilities that come with being a young men."

Feedback from teachers has been very positive. There has been a reduction in overall disruptive behaviours and increased focused attention on classroom activities.

A powerful aspect of the youth programme has been the freedom for young men to openly express their feelings without fear, while respecting the confidential nature of the group, says Hohua.

Based on the success of the men's programmes, a new programme called Tu Tama wahine has been adapted for women.


About Waikato Primary Health Waikato Primary Health promotes the coordination of health care for people in Waikato communities. They work with health providers including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, Maori health workers and health promotion workers who look after people enrolled with Waikato Primary Health.

About Pai Ake Solutions Limited (PASL) Pai Ake Solutions Limited is a service delivering one on one and whanau support to reduce impact of Mental Health and/or Alcohol and Drug issues on individuals and families through education, training, and counselling. They also deliver Mental Health, Alcohol & Drug recovery training from a mainstream and Maori perspective. Services provided are Addiction-Alcohol and Other Drugs, Maori Organisation/Service, Depression, Recovery, Education-Training, Family and Social Support.


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