Consistent hardship faced by Māori in Hawke's Bay is one of the reasons they are committing suicide at disproportionate rates, a community leader believes.

Provisional suicide statistics released to Hawke's Bay Today under the Official Information Act show Māori make up 38.7 per cent of the region's suicide statistics, but just 24.3 per cent of the population.

Forty-three of the 111 suicides in the region since July 2014 have been Māori, including 10 in the past year.

Hastings District Councillor and Hawke's Bay district health board member Jacoby Poulain said the health system needed to become more responsive, innovative and culturally diverse in addressing suicide and mental health.


Poulain said she valued what the hospital offered in clinical settings but said "alternative approaches" for Māori should be explored and supported more.

Strength-based approaches to treatment that helped build self esteem and cultural identity were valuable tools for Māori, and are much needed around the region, Poulain said.

Zack Makaore, who lost his 15-year-old son Kelly to suicide in 2000, says society needs to be "the fence at the top of the cliff, rather than the ambulance at the bottom".

He founded the Flaxmere-based Te Taitimu Trust in 2006. And while the original intent of the trust was suicide prevention, it now branches out into wider life skills areas.

The trust's vision is to turn the tide of negative Māori health disparities and aims to engage with the hearts and minds of rangatahi and their whanau by motivating them to become leaders for the future through engagement with Tangaroa (water or the sea).

They hold annual summer camps to teach water and life skills and build the mana of participants. They also facilitate wananga or meetings by pulling together rangatahi from around the country.

Poulain said Makaore's approach had helped whānau access services they might not normally engage with such as budgeting, education, parenting, health, environmental sustainability.

The goal was to create self-reliant and self-sustainable communities, she said.


Makaore said the community needed to be mobilised to support one another, and young people needed to be taught to talk about, and manage their feelings.

"It is about how we nurture the hearts and minds of our young people."

In August, figures released by Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall show the national Māori suicide rate was at its highest level since records began.

There were 142 Māori deaths from July 2017 to June 2018.

The Hawke's Bay DHB's draft clinical services plan is out for consultation.

It places strong emphasis on tackling health inequalities within the Hawke's Bay population by looking at how and where health services should be delivered in the future.

The public has until October 31 to provide feedback.

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

• Youth services: (06) 3555 906

• Youthline: 0800 376 633

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

• CASPER Suicide Prevention

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.