M¯aori men­tal health sys­tem in con­flict


Jason Hai­tana says ac­knowl­edg­ing his whaka­papa has helped him come to terms with his men­tal health chal­lenges.

The 43-year-old, now a men­tal health worker, has strug­gled through­out his life with men­tal ill­ness.

It was those strug­gles that led him to want to help other peo­ple, es­pe­cially Ma¯ ori, who were fac­ing sim­i­lar chal­lenges.

Part of his am­bi­tion came from be­ing iden­ti­fied early on for a schol­ar­ship from McDon­ald’s, which funded his un­der­grad­u­ate study in com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Auck­land Univer­sity of Technology.

The schol­ar­ship is awarded to Ma¯ ori in the North­land area. On pa­per, he wasn’t an ideal can­di­date, but the schol­ar­ship com­mit­tee recog­nised him as a leader.

As one of the first re­cip­i­ents of the scheme, his tu­ition and ac­com­mo­da­tion were funded.

Af­ter he grad­u­ated, he worked in book­stores and as a re­searcher be­fore tak­ing time off, liv­ing on the ben­e­fit and work­ing on his men­tal health.

Hai­tana is of Nga¯ ti Tu¯ whare­toa and Te A¯ ti Haunuia-Pa¯pa¯rangi de­scent and spent time liv­ing in his iwi’s cen­tral North Is­land re­gion to help form a stronger sense of iden­tity to bat­tle his ill­ness.

‘‘A lot of times, we don’t recog­nise the beauty of the trea­sure that we have in our own whaka­papa or ge­neal­ogy,’’ he said.

He re­turned to study to do a post­grad­u­ate diploma in Ma¯ori de­vel­op­ment. He now works at the Waitem­ata¯ Dis­trict Health Board as a men­tal health con­sumer ad­vi­sor for the Rod­ney com­mu­nity and at North Shore men­tal health fa­cil­ity He Puna Waiora.

Ma¯ ori men­tal health ser­vices also sees a con­flict be­tween clin­i­cal mod­els and kau­papa Ma¯ ori.

‘‘Some­times they clash,’’ he said. ’’But I’m think­ing that, if we can in­cor­po­rate both into one thing, maybe it would be a lot more bal­anced rather than hav­ing this tug-of-war bat­tle be­tween cul­tural and clin­i­cal.’’


Men­tal health worker Jason Hai­tana says re­turn­ing to his iwi ar­eas and learn­ing more about his whaka­papa helped him in his own men­tal health jour­ney.

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