Good leaders share their triumphs and their burdens - and ask for help when needed, Sir Mason Durie told a symposium for youth yesterday.

Te Taitimu Trust hosted the event at Te Aute College in co-ordination with Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, the Department of Corrections, the Ministry of Health and Eastern Districts Police.

Guest speaker Sir Mason, a psychiatrist and old boy of Te Aute College, spoke to about 150 students from 12 Hawke's Bay high schools about leadership and the challenges facing their lives.

The emeritus professor of Maori Research and Development at Massey University said: "Tomorrow you will be the leaders of our people ... that's what today's about, it's about leadership for the people."


He said the generations that grow up in today's technological age find a variety of issues that were unknown to those that attended high school 62 years ago, as he did.

"Leaders today and tomorrow face challenges with the environment, cyber bullying, education failures, drugs and alcohol, suicide, poverty and domestic violence.

"Good leaders share their triumphs and their burdens - and ask for help when it is needed."

For the past 40 years, Sir Mason has transformed the opinions and views towards Maori health and his work was recognised by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the Public Health Association of New Zealand, the Maori Medical Practitioners Association, the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the Polynesian Society.

In the 2010 New Year Honours, Sir Mason was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Maori health and public health services.

Central Hawke's Bay police sergeant Ross Gilbert, who is also a member of Te Taitimu Trust, said as people opened up to talking about difficult issues such as youth suicide and depression, organisations can do more to prevent such family tragedies. "It's a change but it's a healthy change for our community and our society."

He said the stigma surrounding depression in New Zealand still remained, as did an attitude with young men to "toughen up".

Yesterday's symposium was the first and Mr Gilbert hopes those who attended will share their experience with family members and friends.

"It's not just exclusive to youth, it's a problem that adults deal with as well. It's just a real tragedy though when it's a young person because they have their whole lives in front of them," he said. "People see it as an option and solution but it's not an option, it should never be a solution."

"If people can open up and relate with others, then we will have people saying 'hey you've got the same feelings that I have, how do you deal with it?"

Where to get help from:
• Lifeline - 0800 543 354

• Depression Helpline (8am to midnight) - 0800 111 757

• Healthline - 0800 611 116

• Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

• Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email