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Māori models of health vital for the well-being for Māori

Press Release NZAP and Waka Oranga: June 1, 2018

Michelle Levy, psychologist recently raised concerns that NZ psychologists 'very cold, robotic toward Maori.' Both Waka Oranga, National Collective of Māori Psychotherapy Practitioners, and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists (NZAP) support these concerns: “We need to ensure that practitioners are well trained to understand Māori health needs and are capable of responding warmly to Māori with respect for kaupapa Māori values such as wairuatanga, manaakitanga, and whanaungatanga. Restoration of health is determined as much by the respect and aroha communicated by the clinician as it is by their interventions,” said Lynne Holdem, Public Issues spokesperson for NZAP.

Māori well-health acknowledges not only physical and mental health needs, but also the importance of healthy connections to whānau, hapu and iwi, to whakapapa and to land. What is vital is an understanding of the importance of ‘interconnection’ –when the connections between ourselves and the world are well, this contributes greatly to positive health and wellbeing,” said Anna Fleming, Waka Oranga spokesperson.

Political and social processes such as colonisation and urbanisation have had lasting effects on the way that Māori have been able to engage and support their own health. Westernised health knowledge and practices have been prioritised over Māori treatments and models, and have become the dominant avenue of care for most Māori.

“We believe that the appropriate training of psychological practitioners requires a dedicated focus with regard to Hauora Māori, so that practitioners understand the importance of these concepts particularly when working with Māori,” said Fleming.

Waka Oranga provides professional development opportunities through our Poutama Series which focus on the development of Māori models of practice within the ‘talking therapies.’ Each Poutama explores aspects of Māori psychological health, including social and spiritual well-being, giving attendees the opportunity to deepen their understandings of hauora Māori and practice.

Additionally, Waka Oranga, in partnership with the NZAP, offers psychotherapy practitioners a pathway to professional membership through He Ara Māori, a kaupapa Māori based professional development training that ensures sound, best practice.

“Māori models of health, and the idea of interconnectedness, are vital for the well-health for Māori. These ideas and models, while fundamental for Māori well-health, also contribute to well-health for all New Zealanders,” said Fleming.

“Both Māori and Pakeha people want to be engaged with humanely, respectfully, with warmth, not read like books or talked down to,” Holdem added.
Waka Oranga and NZAP are committed to upholding matauranga Māori to treat and support well-health, alongside the many western models already present in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Anna Fleming, Waka Oranga,
Lynne Holdem, NZAP Public Issues,


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