When your personal change programme gets a plug on a police cell wall, you know it must work.

Kim Ericksen and Brendon Downs of Taupo-based Te Kakano Consultants, who run the transformational programmes Tane Ora and Wa Hine Ora, say they've heard one of the cells at the Taupo Police Station bears the message "bro, if you need help, go to Tane Ora".

Kim and Brendon developed Tane Ora several years ago after they were approached by Taupo Violence Intervention Network to develop a course specific to the area.

"The cry from the community was that they wanted something different that relates to them as opposed to some of the current programmes that were running at the time," says Kim.


"Then 18 months later we wrote Wa Hine Ora because the tane (men) said 'could we please have something for our wahine so that they can be on the same journey'."

The programmes look at where people have come from and where they need to go to transform into strong men and women with healthy relationships. They use a kaupapa Maori approach, but people from all cultures enjoy it, Kim says.

Once people have finished a Tane Ora or Wa Hine Ora course they are welcome to return at any time because Kim and Brendon know people are more capable of long-term change if they are supported.

Kim says the courses don't take a typical approach, but aim to go deeper, to explore the drivers behind why people behave the way they do.

The first thing they must do is dispel the illusion that violence and violation is normal and then remove further opportunities for those behaviours by sharing "transformative practices", or new ways of approaching things, particularly in stressful situations.

Their philosophy is that they plant the seeds of change with others, to nurture, grow and sustain all forms of wellbeing.

Brendon says there's plenty of data to show the programmes are successful but the most powerful indicator is that people come to them willingly and return again and again to maintain the change they have made.