Topic: Health

Marae in Rotorua benefiting from workshops on P

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Kevin Hollingsworth a former meth user who has been P free for seven years is helping to educate others about the risks of the drug in Rotorua. 

Hollingsworth, of Te Utuhina Manaakitanga, helps runs workshops on marae and hopes other communities will follow suit.

“I am fearful that it's rising in our community but it's everywhere, in every community.  But this is one way forward and working with the police- Ngāti Pikiao and ourselves are working in collaboration and allowing the community to speak about what they have been through and how we can implement changes,” says Hollingsworth.

For 12 years Hollingsworth was heavily addicted to meth, now he works as an alcohol and drug clinician at Te Utuhina Manaakitanga.

Te Pae Akurangi-Fitzell of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao says, “Having someone like Kevin onboard is awesome.  A lot of people, they're really grateful to hear from someone who has had experiences because we are not talking about this kaupapa that we have heard in a book or learnt on a course...and a lot of our whānau can connect with that.”

After talking to his own clients, Hollingsworth says the issue of P has been growing for some time. 

“They say 'Matua, it's easier to get than cannabis,' - that's a huge surprise to me.”

Hollingsworth and Akurangi-Fitzell have formed Tu Taua, which has already run three workshops on marae and have had over 100 whānau in attendance.

“They're wanting to know where to get help.  They are wanting to know the signs of meth.  And then on the other hand of the scale, we have a whole lot of whānau who have no idea.  They don't know anything about drugs, so we are really educating our people on what to look out for,” says Akurangi-Fitzell.

They hope to take their workshops on P to all marae within Rotorua before sharing their exerience with other marae in the wider Bay of Plenty.