New ex­hi­bi­tion

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Vil­lage Arts in Ko­hukohu will open a new solo ex­hi­bi­tion, White Lad­der, by Rachel Miller at 2pm on Satur­day, with drinks and snacks. All wel­come. The col­lec­tion of new works will open daily from 10am to 4pm un­til De­cem­ber 9. The Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex had no dif­fi­culty recog­nis­ing one face when they ar­rived at Wellington’s Maranui Cafe´ for morn­ing tea and a dis­cus­sion about men­tal health is­sues on Mon­day.

Amongst those in­vited to the dis­cus­sion was 21-year-old Whatuwhi­whi man Ezekiel (Zeke) Raui, who met the cou­ple at Buck­ing­ham Palace in June when he re­ceived a Queen’s Young Leader’s Award.

“I think the whole room was ner­vous,” he said, “but the Duke and the Duchess have the unique abil­ity to create a com­fort­able space. I think that is one thing that puts them above most oth­ers in terms of their abil­ity to en­gage, es­pe­cially with young peo­ple.”

Mr Raui, who re­ceived his award for his work around lead­er­ship and men­tal health, cre­ated Tu Ko­tahi, a peer-sup­port pro­gramme led by young peo­ple in­spired by a visit to Taipa Area School by men­tal health cam­paigner Mike King in 2013, af­ter a spate of sui­cides the year be­fore.

At Buck­ing­ham Palace he had only had the op­por­tu­nity for a brief con­ver­sa­tion with them; this time had he had longer.

“Where we agreed most was un­der­stand­ing that our role, es­pe­cially those of us in men­tal health or­gan­i­sa­tions and char­i­ties, should be to make our­selves re­dun­dant. If we’re still need­ing to do our job that’s a no­tice that we’re not quite achiev­ing the goals that we want to.

“It was amaz­ing and em­pow­er­ing for me, be­cause I felt the im­por­tance of cul­tural iden­tity to one’s men­tal health really came through. That was a topic touched on by the Duke, and es­pe­cially the Duchess, around the im­por­tance of cul­tural iden­tity in over­com­ing the bar­ri­ers of men­tal health.”

Mr Raui, who met then US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2015, said hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to meet so many in­flu­en­tial peo­ple was “ab­so­lutely amaz­ing”.

“For me, the beauty of it is the plat­form that I have been able to en­gage on and am­plify the voices of my peers, and ac­tu­ally voice the is­sues to in­flu­en­tial peo­ple,” he added.

“I see it as the re­al­i­sa­tion of a dream that not only I but my peers had at school.”

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