130 Māori lost to suicide this year

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Today a suicide conference, Ngā Kūaha Tūmanako, was held at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia, bringing together families, youth, community and helping professionals, counsellors, social service agency workers to share their experiences and discuss coping mechanisms for suicide grief and loss. 

Michael Naera (Ngāti Pikiao) from Tāne Ora Māori Suicide Prevention encourages men to man up and speak. 

"Men don't speak about their problems within, they don't talk about the death of relatives, just like hitting women, all of that."

Hinewīrangi Morgan (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ranginui) works with men at Waikēria Prison. She says traditional Māori instruments be an avenue to deal with grief and release pain. 

"We have to teach the stories the pūrakau that go with them, it isn't just about getting up and playing so that's the passion, one of my passions around that is the preservation of our babies."

She encourages educators to consider the inclusion of instruments in schools to teach children about releasing pain through sound. 

"Have a look how taonga puoro exist in our kōhanga reo, in our Kura Kaupapa Māori, in our special places, in our homes."

606 New Zealanders have died from suicide this year alone and strikingly, 130 of them were Māori. This conference brings together those on the frontline. Arena Munro (Ngāpuhi) of Taupiripiri Trust says it is not just about suicide.

"There are many issues that affect Māori, death, accidents, the type of problems that get us down."

Munro says youth need to be included in the conversation.

"To join our elders with the youth, for us to listen intently to them, our aim for Taupiripiri is to lift youth out of this."

The conference will be taken to Gisborne in 2018.