More community groups should be formed and regular meetings held in Northland to tackle issues facing Maori men such as violence, depression and men's health.

That was the message Steve Kenny and Lee Luke of Mana Tane National Collective gave at a health workshop in Whangarei yesterday on achieving changes in men's lives.

The collective started seven years ago and organises hui across the country to discuss topics such as poverty, high rates of prison and failure in schools among Maori, and inequalities in health services.

Yesterday's Tane Ora regional hui was organised by the National Māori Men's Health Coalition in partnership with Manaia Health, Te Tai Tokerau PHOs and Northland District Health Board.


Eighty Maori men from throughout Northland attended the hui.

Mr Luke said Maori men in Northland faced major challenges in terms of poor health and education, lack of access to medical services, and drug and alcohol abuse.

"Because of the size of this region and the isolation of communities, leadership groups should meet regularly so they can share success stories in terms of reversing some of the issues around Maori men's health.

"Fortunately there's Manaia PHO and we also want to work with the Northland DHB and other organisations like the Salvation Army so that people not only discuss issues during national conferences but beyond that," he said.

Manaia PHO chief executive Donovan Clarke said the Tane Ora regional hui was an ideal platform for Maori men to seriously think about leading their whanau on the health, education and job fronts.

Speakers at the hui included former gang member Phil Paikea and comedian Mike King who both spoke about positive changes they made to their lives.

Mr Paikea is an ambassador for the "It's Not OK" campaign on domestic violence while Mr King is an ambassador for mental health and suicide prevention.

General manager Maori health at Northland DHB, Harold Wereta, said the leading causes of death for Maori men in the region were ischaemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, accidents, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


He said the underlying causes were also linked to social marginalism, poverty, inequalities and unequal access to health services.

"By bringing together Maori men from across Northland we are hoping to start a conversation and journey that will generate discussion and action and promote the view you are in control and all things are possible."