Gate Pa mother Teisha Paratene is paralysed from the hips down as a result of years of chronic methamphetamine addiction.

One of her arms is numb and the other has constant pins and needles.

The 38-year-old suffers functional neurological disorder, which means the neurons in her brain are not firing properly.

"My brain is fried. Fried from years of injecting, snorting meth. The neurones or pathways in my brain are blocked, damaged."


She feels a mixture of "sadness and disgust" about her plight,

"I am pretty pissed off. I have done this to myself and basically robbed my 3-year-old son of having a mother who can run around and play with him."

She has one message for those tempted to try meth or current users: "It is not going to make you beautiful, skinny or rich. It is going to make you poor, in rehab, in jail, or dead.

"If the drug doesn't kill you someone else might. It is not a pretty scene."

She should know - after starting using in her 20s she quickly turned to sex work then dealing to fund her habit, which plunged her into a murky world of violence and retribution,

"I've had a gun held at me, been stabbed, been beaten by the Mongrel Mob for being on their patch. Once someone took me up to Kaiate Falls and tried to drown me.

"Once someone left me at the doors of the emergency department as I had overdosed."

Paratene's turning point came in 2009. After a 14-day meth binge with her then partner, they fought and he drove off. His car crashed and he died in her arms.


Left with $80,000 from dealing, she remembers "flipping between" whether to buy a boat or go into rehab. She eventually got clean at Tauranga's Hamner Clinic and Narcotics Anonymous.

Tragedy has plagued Paratene's life.

Last year, her 17-year old daughter, Te Awhiahua Toko, died after a foster carer cut her throat and stabbed her with a butcher's boning knife. She was removed from Paratene's care as a young child.

Now, with Paratene's deteriorating physical condition a constant reminder of her dangerous past, Paratene is telling her story in the lead-up to a community meeting about "P Solutions' at Maungatapu marae today.

Organised by Tauranga iwi Ngai Te Rangi and local charity Brave Hearts, the hui is driven by a demand for solutions to the Bay's ever-increasing P epidemic, says Tauranga mother Erin Scarlett O'Neill, who began Brave Hearts last year after her son was addicted to meth for more than 10 years.

In April, 300 locals concerned about meth's impact in the region attended a meeting at Tauranga Boys' College.

In June, in Ngongotaha, Assistant Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha declared war on the "awful demon" destroying communities at his Waiteti Marae, at a meeting of more than 200 people, including included gang members, mothers, grandparents, children, addicts, former addicts and health professionals.

Haumaha said the solution needed to come back to the marae. He also had connections to Maungatapu marae, which was his grandmother's.

"No one group, or just the police, can solve this problem. The solutions come from collective strength in the community to keep people safe from those who peddle this misery."

He said it was not going to be solved overnight,

"With methamphetamine, there is big money involved."

After the Ngongotaha meeting, Haumaha discussed issues with Police Minister Paula Bennett.

Last month Bennett said she would overhaul and lead a new Government approach to tackle methamphetamine.

A new Tauranga-based taskforce will tackle the "concerning" supply of methamphetamine coming into the region.

The Tauranga-based unit was expected to help combat national and international links to organised crime.

Bennett said the taskforce would focus on organised crime involving the supply of methamphetamine coming into the region.

There would be a focus on the seizure of assets through the task force.

P: A Solutions Seminar
Organisers: Brave Hearts and Ngai te Rangi
When: Today, 7 to 9pm
Where: Maungatapu Marae, 25 Wikitoria St, Tauranga
Freephone Brave Hearts 0508 272834
Light refreshments will be provided.