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Nib Foundation Provides Crucial Funding To Extend Rangatahi Led, Kaupapa Māori Mental Health Program

Through its Prevention Partnerships Program the nib foundation has provided The Kindness Institute with $50,000 in funding to support the expansion of its Atawhai program.

The evidence-based and scientifically-proven Atawhai program helps to improve the mental health and wellbeing of marginalised rangatahi in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Brady Polkinghorne (Ngāti Tamaterā), Director, The Kindness Institute, says the funding was much needed after the organisation faced unexpected government funding cuts earlier this year.

“We’re facing an ongoing and worsening youth mental health crisis in Aotearoa and programs like ours that are proven to have a profound and significant positive effect on the wellbeing of the rangatahi we serve, are in need of funding.

“Thanks to funding contributions from the nib foundation we were able to run a second Atawhai program this year, helping an additional 15 rangatahi. This type of funding is particularly important as we faced significant government funding cuts this year. Receiving funding from organisations that believe in our kaupapa allows us to continue to grow and make a meaningful difference in the lives of our rangatahi,” says Polkinghorne.

Atawhai is a kaupapa Māori and tikanga driven resilience and mental health program for 13-18 year olds, based on Te Whare Tapa Whā framework. The rangatahi-led program is run over a 6 month period and includes two intensive week-long camps, monthly wānanga, development sessions and ongoing mentoring. The program supports rangatahi holistically through activities including yoga, mindfulness, self-reflection and creative arts with the aim of equipping them with lifelong communication, stress management and resilience skills.

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Amy Tribe, Executive Officer, nib foundation says they are proud to partner with The Kindness Institute and support this meaningful kaupapa.

“We know that rangatahi Māori are disproportionately impacted when it comes to youth mental health and we’re proud to support a kaupapa Māori program that empowers rangatahi to learn new skills and adopt healthy habits to protect their mental wellbeing.

“Through our partnership we were able to connect The Kindness Institute with nib’s partner, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. The latest Atawahi cohort included 7 rangatahi from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and we're excited to explore other opportunities to work together in the future,” says Tribe.

In 2022, 13 rangatahi successfully completed the Atawhai program and 100% of the participants reported a reduction in stress and a positive change in themselves at school or in their community. Participants also report decreases in anxiety, depression and self harm.

Upcoming Atawhai graduate, Uniqa, says “The Atawhai programme has done a lot for me in terms of realisation, knowledge and growth. I have learnt many things while attending the kaupapa and I am grateful to have been exposed to the helpful tools that are provided. The tools have supported me with stress, bad sleeping, anxiety, confidence and more! The biggest change that I've experienced since joining Te Atawhai is in my mindset. My mind is more open and non-judgemental towards myself and others. I feel as though The Atawhai has also helped build on my resilience towards life. Overall it has made me stronger and a better person. I also notice that (in terms of self confidence) I am more outgoing and less afraid to be myself in public settings in comparison to previous years.”

The most recent cohort of participants are set to graduate from the Atawhai program on Sunday 17th December at an event hosted by Toi Ora, the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Health Team.

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