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Māori Suicide Prevention Symposium 2020

Mihi Whakaora Wānanga

“We are the people we’ve been waiting for”  (Riki Nia Nia 2020)

First and foremost, we acknowledge the kaupapa of Māori suicide prevention. This kaupapa is bigger than all of us and we are all impacted by it.

Māori continue to be over-represented in national and international suicide statistics. There is still a need for sustained action for culturally safe, culturally competent, suicide prevention and postvention activities, that are led and delivered ‘by Māori for Māori’.

As a part of on-going events for Māori suicide prevention, the 2020 Māori Suicide Prevention Summer School Wānanga was organised by Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho from the University of Otago. This year was the first time Otago University had partnered with Te Rau Ora to support this initiative.

Self-determination was the overarching emerging theme at this Symposium.

This event identified key issues through the voices and work of social advocates, academics, service providers, policy writers, and researchers, with solutions to suicide prevention and post-vention laying within our communities, whānau, hapū, iwi and hāpori Māori.

It was identified that self-determination has not yet been fully realised in Aotearoa for Māori suicide prevention or postvention.  Yet there is substantial and growing evidence that these strategies work, evidenced by pockets of success stories throughout our communities such as Mahi ā Ātua, Te Rau Ora, Te Pūtahitanga, Māori entrepreneurship and rangatahi leadership among other successes. Some of the strategies that are impacting a reduction in Māori suicide levels in some communities, recognise that by Māori for Māori is the key to suicide prevention.

Māori suicide prevention must be situated in the heart of whakapapa and Māori communities. It must heed the voices of those who know what they are talking about and above all, who have faith in by ‘Māori for Māori’ self-determination. Unless we correct the gaze of current efforts to align with the realities of being Māori today, suicide prevention will continue to challenge us.

*Adapted from Suicide Prevention Symposium report by Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho   (July 2020).


Te Rau Rangahau is the Research, Evaluation & Data Intelligence Unit of Te Rau Ora.  Te Rau Rangahau works to gather evidential data on strategies that work for improvement and maintenance of Māori health and wellbeing.

Recommendations from the Māori Suicide Prevention Symposium 2020…

Five key areas were identified for strengthening suicide prevention for Māori:

Whakamana i te Mātauranga Māori – Valuing and utilising Māori intelligence and reconnecting with whakapapa/genealogy

He hononga ki ngā atua Māori – Connecting to te Wairua/Spirituality

Whakamōtī i te kaikiri – Eliminating racism

Whakamana i te Tiriti o Waitangi – Developing policies that enable and realise Te Tiriti ō Waitangi (Māori language version) is imperative.

Whakamana i te whānau – ensuring that whānau are elevated and at the center of suicide prevention and postvention efforts is critical for Māori suicide prevention.

See below for a presentations by Riki Nia Nia, Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho, Dr Kahu McKlintock, Tio Sewell, and Paora Moyle from the Symposium 2020. 

Insights into the Community Suicide Prevention Fund 2020

With capacity building and direct support, Māori are implementing a range of suicide prevention initiatives in their communities. This paper provides an insight of the enablers and challenges to the 74 Māori Community Suicide Prevention initiatives (2020) supported by Te Rau Ora.


Maori SP initiative Insights

Au.E! Building Rangatahi Resilience Hui

Tiaki Whānau, Tiaki Ora: Strengthening Whānau Capacity in Suicide Prevention.

Māori Suicide Prevention Research, Policy & Practice

  • Recommendations and fundings from the Māori Suicide Prevention Summer Symposium 2020. Written by Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho.


Every Life Matters: He Tapu te Oranga o ia tangata

Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 and Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2019–2024 for Aotearoa New Zealand.


Hei Āpōpō!

Ko te pūtake o tēnei rauemi, he āwhina i te hunga e aupēhitia ana e te mate hinengaro. Ka taea e tātou katoa te tautoko i te hunga e pōraruraru pēnei ana kia whiwhi ai rātou i te āwhina o tētahi ratonga hauora.


Tū Whānau Mai

Ko tā Te Rau Ora, he whakamataara i ngā whānau Māori ki ngā whakatūpato, me ngā whakaohoreretanga o te mate whakamomori me ngā rautaki e mārohirohi ai te tū hei kaupare i tēnei taniwha.


Waka Hourua: An Agenda for the Prevention of Suicide – March 2019

At the Waka Hourua Hui Fono on 3 March 2019, Sir Mason Durie presented ten priorities for the prevention of suicide, which were adopted by the attendees.


Te Rā o Te Waka Hourua 1 – Research Agenda

Te Rā o Te Waka Hourua, Māori and Pacific Strategic Research Agenda was established in 2014 with a clear objective to identify and evidence effective strategies, for Māori & Pasifika families and communities, that help to prevent suicide


Towards Mauri Ora

Towards Mauri Ora: Entrepreneurship education and community development for hard to reach rangatahi and their whānau – pathway and models for sustainable development

This research examined the outcomes of Ahikaa, a specialised Kaupapa Māori entrepreneurship education programme for rangatahi experiencing recurring trauma and their whānau. Using a Kaupapa Māori methodology, Whānau Narrative Inquiry and motivational interviewing methods, this research examined the transformative potential of entrepreneurship education for rangatahi and whānau self-determination.

Researcher: Dr Catherine Love
Research team: Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho, Professor Emeritus Sir Ngātata Love, Shamia Shariff
Research priority: Realising the Potential of Cultural Identity.
Location: The researchers are based in Te Tau Ihu and Te Upoko o Te Ika (Blenheim-Marlborough and Wellington regions) and the research is taking place primarily in Te Tau Ihu, Te Upoko, Taranaki and Bay of Plenty.

Waka Hourua webinar – To view this presentation from Dr Cathering Love click here.  For the supporting PowerPoint click here.


Investigating Pasifika cultural strengths and prevention of suicide – Preliminary Findings

This research investigated cultural strengths and links with suicide prevention approaches in three Pasifika groups and developed projects to then be piloted. In summary:

  1. Identified Tokelauan, Cook Island and Samoan cultural concepts and knowledge on suicide and its prevention.
  2. Developed practices and responses for piloting from the Tokelauan, Cook Island and Samoan cultural concepts and knowledge that assisted in suicide prevention.
  3. Developed Tokelauan, Cook Island and Samoan suicide prevention mental health practices for piloting within mental health services.

Researcher: Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese amd Tafaoimalo Loudeen Parsons
Research priority: Realising the Potential of Cultural Identity
Location: Wellington
Waka Hourua webinar – To view this presentation from Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese and Tafaoimalo Loudeen Parsons click here.  For the supporting PowerPoint click here.


He Waipuna Koropupu

He Waipuna Koropupu is a Kaupapa Māori research project that seeked to address the silence that exists in relation to Taranaki suicide. Qualitative in nature, the data collected for analysis obtained from Taranaki whānau through participant interviews and hapū hui. Whānau experiences of suicide, behavioural patterns, warning signs and cultural and social systems were explored.

Researcher: Ngaropi Cameron
Research team: Leonie Pihama, Jocelyn Millard Awhina Cameron
Research priority: Realising the Potential of Supporting Recovery
Location: All researchers whakapapa to Taranaki and the research will be based out of Taranaki.
Waka Hourua webinar – To view this presentation from Ngaropi Cameron click here.  For the supporting PowerPoint click here.


Global Overview: Indigenous Suicide Rates

Last year, two of our very own, Aotearoa’s leading Māori researchers Dr Keri Lawson Te Aho and Dr Kahu McClintock collaborated in a range of ways with our Australian whānau.  One of those gems was in the publication of the Global Overview of Suicide which provides an updated evidence base on the real concerns across indigenous nations globally.


Cyber Safety

The main focus of this report is to explore the current research relevant to providing better information for Māori whānau.


Te Pātūtū Oranga

Successful initiatives to strengthening the protective factors for suicide prevention amongst tāne Māori.


Indigenous Suicide: The Turamarama Declaration


Across the globe suicide has become a major public health concern. Indigenous suicide rates have escalated over the past two decades and continue to exceed national rates.  In 2016, a Māori tribal organisation, Ngāti Pikiao, convened an international conference, Turamarama ki te Ora, to discuss global approaches to the prevention of suicide.   To bring together the many aspects of suicide prevention, a Declaration was presented and subsequently endorsed by Conference delegates.  The Turamarama Declaration acknowledged the grief associated with suicide, recognised avenues to promote indigenous resilience, identified opportunities to decrease risks to suicide, and challenged local, national, and international authorities to take definitive measures to reduce indigenous suicide.  The Declaration also encouraged indigenous people to work together to provide an integrated response and collective, networked leadership.

Mason Durie



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