In 2012, a wave of youth suicides in Northland featured far too many of Ngātiwai descent. 19 people under 25 years took their own lives, a huge increase from 5 the year before (Penney & Dobbs, 2014). Suicide rates for Māori youth in Te Tai Tokerau, including the Ngātiwai rohe, is therefore a major public health issue. In recognition of this, the Ngātiwai Trust Board has identified an urgent need for localised, iwi/hapk -based activities/interventions that deepen our understanding of the complex social and cultural factors which have led to the high rate of self destructive and suicidal behaviors among the youth of Ngātiwai.
An essential part of this project will focus on developing culturally-based strategies that respond effectively to the specific needs and aspirations of Ngātiwai young people,reconnecting them to whenua, marae, kaum tua/kuia and culture, thereby promoting their vitality and enhancing their sense of belonging as uri of Ngātiwai. We seek to celebrate who they are, and to encourage them in that celebration. Involving them in the research project/s will help them build a sense of self-worth, strengthen connections between generations, build the energy of positive growth, and provide them with a sense of ownership and a voice on important development processes which affect them.
This project is a short intensive summar internship project undertaken by Paulette Wellington under supervision of Dr Lily George, Massey University.