S09: In the footsteps of our Ancestors.

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By September 4, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Cory James, Marihi Langford, Trey Henry

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: In the footsteps of our Ancestors.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Cory has been working in the addictions field for 15 years across both the DHB and NGO sector. Specialising in the Youth field he has used many different approaches from mainstream to cultural and has dedicated himself to supporting young people to find out who they are.

As a graduate of the Oranga Tangata programme, Trey demonstrates the transformation that occurs when one is reconnected to their land, ancestors and culture. Trey recently received the Hoe Rua scholarship from Te Rau Ora supporting his ambitions in the addictions sector. Trey is now employed to facilitate the programme he once graduated.

Ko Wai Au? Who am I?

Ringed by golden beaches and crystal clear oceans, Kaitaia is unconscionably pretty, dotted with flaming red pohutukawa trees and blessed by year-round blue skies. Despite this, our small town tends to be portrayed as unsafe and fuelled by drugs and alcohol, while negative stereotypes and labels such as the town being New Zealand's murder capital does not help.

We believe our Far North Community, despite what is represented in the media and statistics has the potential to flourish, living off our own resources with a growing economy.

There is a clear desire for a better future for young people, principally focusing on suicide and mental health issues, and the need to engage youth in positive pathways.

Ngati Kahu Social and Health services works with vulnerable at risk Whanau , supporting them through their journey to wellbeing.

We know that disconnection from people, place and purpose are key drivers that impact our communities. We are providing an opportunity for our Rangatahi to reconnect to their Whenua, Tupuna, Community and their Turangawaewae.

Our presentation looks at our 'Oranga Tangata' programme, working with 18 - 24 year olds. We have taken a basic mainstream work ready contract and turned it into a programme that is specific to the needs of OUR community, targeting OUR whanau and OUR young people.

We are using Tupuna (ancestors) stories to inspire, ignite and instill values and traditions and make them relevant for our young people in the world that they live in today. We believe that if we can use these stories to engage our young people they will figure out who they are , who they want to be and become positive contributors to their Whanau and their community.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: The audience will gain an understanding of the importance if 'connection' for young people who are struggling in the world they live in and how going back to basics can reconnect them to the things that matter most.

Learning Objective 2: Our youth are faced with so many barriers, our presentation looks at these barriers from the lens of a young person in our community. Disconnection,isolation,trauma,mental health ,addictions and violence have become the social norm for many of our young people, affecting their mental Health and wellbeing. Our approach strips away all of those issues and attempts to rebuild young people and strengthening them using our culture and traditions.


Mead HM. Tikanga Mäori, Living by Mäori Values. Huia, Wellington 2003

Hinemoa Elder (2008) Ko wai ahau? (Who am I?) How cultural identity issues are experienced by Mäori psychiatrists and registrars working with children and adolescents,Australasian Psychiatry, 16:3, 200-203, DOI: 10.1080/10398560701875199

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