Tuia Te Ao Mārama: Lessons for transformative indigenous mental health services

Maria Baker, Tio Sewell


Tuia Te Ao Mārama is an oral history project shaped in the recordings of Māori mental health nurses who practised from 1950 to 1990 in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Fifteen Māori mental health nursesfrom various iwi (tribes) in Aotearoa were video interviewed by a team of Māori mental health nurses from Te Ao Māramatanga, New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses. Qualitative semi-structured oral interviews were completed with a range of participants. The data was abstracted, transcribed and analysed, utilising a kaupapa Māori methodology.

In this article we present five narratives from Tuia Te Ao Mārama, a snapshot of experiences of Māori mental health nurses. From these stories we identify cultural themes of importance to Māori mental health nurses relevant to improving Māori mental health outcomes. These are taonga tuku iho (the treasures and teachings passed down from their ancestors), pūkengatanga (expertise), te reo me ona tikanga (Māori language and customary practise), rangatiratanga (leadership), and kaitiakitanga (preservation). We conclude with the key messages in these selected narratives, and consider the potential lessons for the transformation of mental health services that more aptly and effectively meet the needs of Māori.

This article is based on a presentation given at the Seventh Gathering: Healing Our Spirit Worldwide, Hamilton New Zealand, 2015.


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