A Rotorua health programme focused on wellbeing and culture is bringing new hope and new life for men with serious health issues.
And thanks to a grant from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, the Tane Takitu Ake programme can continue its work as a trusted referral point for medical, legal and social providers.
Offering a unique holistic health and wellbeing service, the programme, run by Korowai Aroha Trust, is credited with saving the lives of men facing seemingly insurmountable health and life challenges.
Two men whose lives have changed since joining the programme are Anaru Morehu and Tom Hepi.
Morehu said, with a background of violence, he came to Korowai a very sick man.
"Coming out of prison I was on a dark road and knew there had to be a change, not just for me, but for my whānau too.
"Once I met others on the course I knew I was not alone and no longer felt out of place. This helped me when I was tempted back to my old ways," he said.
He quit smoking and drinking, changed his diet, exercised and became a different man, embracing his Māori identity and building his courage to continue his journey to recovery.
Similar to Morehu's story, Hepi heard about the programme after being diagnosed with type two diabetes.
The programme helped him to embrace his identity and taught him the importance of understanding Māori culture and its importance to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
"I have learnt Māori tikanga and now live my life by these principles.
"I learnt to trust in being who I am. I used to trust no one, but now I have a safety net and can trust that I can call on anyone here when I need them."
The $20,000 grant from Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust meant support for Māori men in similar situations would continue in Rotorua.
The innovative programme combines social, physical and clinical interventions, providing tools and skills to make changes and focuses on restoring mana and strength, so the men can become role models in their whānau and the wider community.
Rotorua trust chairman Stewart Edward said the holistic nature of the programme as well as the flow-on effect to whānau, made it invaluable.
"The balance between the clinical and cultural creates a great opportunity to bring men out of isolation, to band together and motivate each other.
"We believe in programmes like this - they have a powerful social return on investment, keeping individuals out of hospital and prison, getting them into employment and restoring families."
Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust Grants Approved in June :
Bay of Plenty Sailing Academy - $4000
Canoe Racing NZ Inc - $9000
Coastguard Maketu - $15,000
Fordland Kindergarten - $15,000
Halberg Disability Sport Foundation - $10,000
Hei Matau Paddlers Inc – Role Model Students - $5000
John Paul College - Role Model Student - $500
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation NZ - $3000
Kaharoa Primary School - $10,000
Korowai Aroha Trust - $20,000
NZ Nutrition Foundation - $5000
Rhapsody Rotorua - $15,000
Rotorua Community Hospice Trust Inc - $20,000
Rotorua Community Youth Centre Trust - $20,000
Rotorua Lakes Council - $4000
Rotorua Lakes High School - $8000
Rotorua Lakes High School – Role Model Student - $1000
Rotorua Little Theatre Society Inc - $5000
Sport Bay of Plenty Charitable Trust Board Inc - $15,000
St Chads Communication Centre Trust - $20,000
St Stephen's Church Reporoa/Rerewhakaaitu - $25,000
TalkLink Trust - $20,000
Te Aratu Trust - $10,000
Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho Ake - $6000
Visions of a Helping Hand - $20,000
Western Heights High School – Role Model Student - $1000