Tamariki Māori use culture to cope with Earthquakes

updated By Ripeka Timutimu
  • South Island

A Christchurch counsellor says Māori children are using their own culture to cope with the effects of the 2011 earthquake, and more recently the 5.7 earthquake that hit the city on Sunday.

A study by Canterbury University has shown hundreds of children are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Mātauranga Māori could help in alleviating that stress.

It's only a practice run for these children, but it could offer some insight for those suffering after a real earthquake.

“The greater menu of resources that people have to cope in life it’s gotta to be a good thing, and Mātauranga Māori has much to offer Aotearoa,” says Counsellor Sarah Maindonald.

With nearly 160 children on the roll at TKKM o Te Whānau Tahi, Counsellor Sarah Maindonald says using Mātauranga Māori has helped many to cope with the earthquakes.

"For Maori children I think the idea of Ruaumoko that there’s a way of explaining natural phenomena helps them make sense of things as a protective factor," says Maindonald.

A study by Canterbury University showed that 60% of 320 children, aged from five to seven, who have been tracked since the start of 2013, are showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, but fewer than one in 10 had access to counselling.

Maindonald stress its importance for future generations, “It’s not only the moral right to access counselling but actually these are our future leaders and we need to help and support our children through these traumatic events.”

Counselling services were made a priority here at Te Kura o Whānau Tahi, but Maindonald is calling on the government for more support, “It’s a real shame that there’s no counselling staff resource for primary schools, like there is a set amount for high schools and it’s something the government needs to address.”

Next week will be the 5th anniversary of the earthquake, and despite the progress that has been made, the community here in Christchurch could look to their own for better remedies.