Kawerau Suicide Prevention Action Plan Launch
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
Kawerau Suicide Prevention Action Plan
Thursday 29 March 2012 Speech
E rere kau mai te awa nui mai i Te Kahui
Maunga ki Tangaroa.
Ko au te awa ko te awa ko au.
I stand to firstly mihi to Marama and Michelle (Elliott) and your dad Koro Timi Peri, for sharing your stories; your vision and your leadership.
I want to also acknowledge Mayor Malcolm Campbell, Wayne Hastie; Chris Marjoribanks, the CEO Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau Hauora Education and Social Services and everyone who has been drawn here today for such an important kaupapa.
I want to thank you for the invitation to be here and to let you know that I am greatly humbled to be here.
As we drove here today, the significance of your maunga, the landmark of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, was visible from all angles. And so as I come to you today, I acknowledge Putauaki and inextricable link between your maunga, your whakapapa, your people.
There are many stories which tell us of the character of Putauaki – including the relationships with Tarawera, with Tongariro, Pihanga and Ngauruhoe.
all there is a theme that when Putauaki reached Kawerau, he
was overtaken by the approaching dawn and there he stayed;
grounded, embraced with the warmth of the sunrise.
It is a wonderful image to set before us as we gather today, to celebrate life, to pay tribute to the commitment and determination of this community who have worked together to protect your future.
Today then, is a new sunrise, an opportunity to look anew at our landscape and to look back with love at the journey we have been through.
One of our tupuna from Whanganui, Te Mareikura Hori Enoka reminds us of the special vantage point our mountain ranges provide us with.
‘Ko taku taumata tonu ko runga ko Ruapehu, marama te titiro he ao ka rere mai. My solace is upon Ruapehu where I can clearly see the world pass by me.
Whether it is Putauaki or Ruapehu – what is the world that we look upon? Is it a world fit for our mokopuna to inhabit? Does it reflect the aspirations and the values left for us from those who have travelled before us?
Today, we have a unique opportunity to look – and to look hard – at the world in which we are creating.
We have come together to launch the Kawerau Suicide Prevention Action Plan - a plan which provides a framework for how the community and government services can work together to support the people of Kawerau.
This is not just a plan for a plan’s sake. All of us here know the tragic and painful recent history that has led us to this point.
We grieve for all our whānau here and throughout the motu who have lost loved ones.
We mourn with our kuia and koroua who feel acutely the loss of their mokopuna; taken far too young from us all.
Anyone who has lost a son or daughter,
a sister or brother, a whānau member through suicide will
share today, the gnawing agony that hits our hearts so hard.
Let us ensure that their stories, their lives, are never far
from our thoughts today and every day.
We can do that best, by supporting each other, by working together, to learn from our losses, and to resolve that we can and will find the solutions and the hope to make the transformation we need.
In a public service context there are many concepts which have popular currency – words like accountability, transparency, collaboration. Today in Kawerau we lift up those words to make a positive difference by Kawerau for Kawerau; by whānau for whānau.
This plan is an immediate action to draw upon the strengths of whanau potential that have been demonstrated in so many ways in Kawerau over the last few years.
We have seen some amazing local heroes; some incredible acts of bravery and commitment from parents; from whānau who have had the courage to look through their tears and find a new pathway forward.
I think of the wonderful mum, Michelle Elliot, who took a stand and said to the world, we can do things differently, we can rebuild our lives, we can care for each other; we can do what we need to do. And I want to thank you and Marama for your courage in sharing your stories.
I think of the Hīkoi for Life that culminated in a concert in Kawerau – driven by the passion and power of rangatahi, many who are here today.
There are some dedicated advocates in groups such as the Kawerau Implementation Team, Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau Health Education and Social Services; Te Huinga Social Services and Kia Piki te Ora.
There is the leadership of Wayne Hastie who has been with you all the way.
And of course there is a huge cast of providers, and government departments who have worked together to oversee a new way ahead in Kawerau.
But I want to come back to our view from Putauaki – what do we see?
What is the ground upon which our tamariki will travel?
And I want to share with you some kōrero from my late cousin, Rangitihi Tahuparae which I have found deeply comforting, as I think about the pain so many of our whānau have experienced through deaths that have occurred too soon within our midst.
His kōrero was that we must return to our origins. It is like a tree in which the rootstock of our ancestors provides us with all that we need. Over time, we have become like a branch grafted to a foreign tree, producing fruit of a different quality, and somewhat unpalatable. It is time we returned to our own – me hoki ki ngā paiaka.
I want you to think about the concept of a strong, proud Titoki tree. The Titoki tree is lush in its leafy canopy – it has attractive glossy dark green leaves, that reveal bright red fruit that can take up to a year to mature.
Our people often used the oil from the fruits on the Titoki tree for any number of ailments – for ear ache, eye problems, for infant rashes, for eczema, for sprains and wounds, for rheumatism.
Those oils replenished the tired and unwell; they restored our whānau to the essence of who we are.
And so it is, that as I look at what you are doing here to help yourselves, I think of that Titoki tree and the hua they produce – the rich, juicy fruit that will create our future.
Today, this plan, builds on the principles of education, of accountability, of provider collaboration, of communication and of whānau engagement.
This is if you like, the base of your Titoki tree – the skills and attributes, ngā pukengatanga – that will help you to effect optimum wellbeing.
For the growth and wellbeing of your whānau to be secure however the base of your tree must be truly grounded in a root system which invests in a foundation for growth.
The fruits of the Titoki Tree do not just appear out of nowhere – from being washed in the rain or swept by the breeze of our every day lives.
They thrive and grow from the rich and essential nutrients of a root system which aids their growth.
Then then, is ultimately, what I believe can be your strength in establishing your pathway ahead – the values, the kaupapa, the tikanga that furnishes your own solutions.
It is about trusting in yourselves – knowing that the strategies you have developed come from your own histories, traditions and the legacies of those before you.
The Kawerau Suicide Prevention Plan arose out of crisis and tragedy – but is also emerged from the fierce determination of whānau to take control of their lives, and live in a way which we may describe as inkeeping with Whānau Ora.
That is – you have recognised that the whānau itself must be the foundation for wellbeing; that whānau deserve to enjoy wellbeing, to be nurturing and safe, to experience a better quality of life.
It is about recognising that ‘at risk’ is not a concept that we associate with te Ao Māori. Our greatest vulnerability is not that we should be measured along a spectrum of deficiencies. Our greatest fraility is if we are disconnected from who we are.
I am so pleased to see in this plan the acknowledgement that a strong cultural base is a vital source of identity; of belonging and of self-worth. There is nothing I believe more.
So today, I thank you for your generosity in inviting me to share this celebration.
As today we take part in this very historic tree planting, I know we will all be thinking of the lush growth we anticipate for our future.
We must see these trees as the Titoki tree - their roots grounded in kaupapa, their growth is symbolic of our strengths.
Let the tree remind us how we can celebrate life and living; and may our aspirations be always like branches; enabling our whānau to be ever searching upwards for new horizons.