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THE NEW FACE OF MAAORI MENTAL HEALTH IS ACTUALLY CENTURIES OLD

Tamahere Hospital and Healing Centre is sited on ten acres of culturally historic whenua in the heart of Ngaati Haua, an Iwi as part of the greater Waikato Iwi, between Cambridge and Hamilton (the hapuu of Ngaati Haua associated with Tamahere is Te Iti a Hauaa). As the only registered psychiatric hospital owned by Maaori in Aotearoa, it is owned and managed by Hauora Waikato the largest kaupapa Maaori mental health provider in the country and offers significant precedent to other iwi wishing to establish their own facilities. Tamahere Hospital and Healing Centre delivers services from a kaupapa Maaori perspective, but also provides bi-cultural, pan-cultural, and mainstream services to accommodate for individuals seeking an alternative approach.

The whenua was chosen for the relevance it has in it’s connections to the ancestral past of iwi Maaori – the surrounding area close to the banks of the Waikato River is known to be where Tawhiao and his people bathed and spiritually nurtured themselves, and today relics of perfectly circular shaped indentations in the whenua indicate this phenomenon offering a spiritual connection to the past.

The location is also relevant to the two korero relating to the ingoa.
Tamahere as provided by elders of Ngaati Hauaa and Ngaati Koroi: Ka toro tooku ringa ki te tama a te Atua hei herenga mo tooku iwi Tamahere
‘ I raise my hand to the Son of God for peace and resolution for my tribes’.
‘ I and my tribes will fight no more. The fighting is at an end in Waikato as far as my influence goes’

Thus it was in an area in close proximity to Tamahere Hospital and Healing Center, where Wiremu Tamhinana Tarapipipi laid down his taiaha. Tamahere Hospital and Healing Center honours this pledge of peace today.

Another korero relates to when Mahinarangi reached the narrow part of the Waikato River, (now known as The Narrows) and before she swum across the river, Mahinarangi tied her tamaiti (Raukawa) in her hair to keep him safe. Hence the name Tamahere. Ka herengia tooku Tama ki ooku makawe.

On entering the whenua of Tamahere Hospital, the wairua of these past events is evident, the calmness, the tranquillity and the spirituality can be felt from the whenua, and this is the first feeling of connection and whaanau that is experienced by those who come for support and treatment, and for those who provide support and treatment from a contemporary, clinical and traditional cultural methodologies delivered within Tamahere Hospital and Healing Centre me Hauora Waikato Group.

Evolving out of the Whaiora Cultural Unit at Tokaanui Hospital (1999) – Tamahere Hospital and Healing Centre provides a continuum of services to Maaori (and choosing non-Maaori), these services devolve from sub-acute to respite interventions with an average length of stay of 37 days. For those experiencing an episode of serious mental illness, long term intensive rehabilitation can continue for two to three years. An education programme (Kohi Maara) is provided daily at Ngaa Parirau education centre at the hospital by Rapu ki Rua Institute.

A highly skilled clinical team of the largest contingent of Maaori practitioners, practice their learned specialist skills in conjunction with who they are as Maaori, supported and nurtured by kaumaatua and kuia and embracing the collective responsibility that is Maaori, while being guided through their practice by Te Mohiotanga Kotahi (Best Practice Model) of Ngaa Ringa Awhina.

Hauora Waikato Group me Ngaa Ringa Awhina
474 Anglesea St, PO Box 1283, Hamilton, Phone: 07 839 9916, Fax 07 839 9917
Freephone: 0800 839 9916, Email: email@hauorawaikato.org.nz