Rangatahi are taking the lead when it comes to supporting mental health and wellbeing in their rohe, working together to design homegrown initiatives that work for them.  

The Taikorihi Rangatahi Leadership Group held their first meeting in Kaitāia this month.

The 12-strong group comprises of people aged between 16 and 24 from the Taikorihi area, extending from north Hokianga across to Mangonui, and north to Te Rerenga Wairua.

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Led and mentored by the Moko Foundation, Health Research Co-ordinator Connor Watene O’Sullivan said the group is a critical point of influence to position authentic, young voices at the forefront of decision-making spaces.

“We want to inform the way our hauora landscapes could potentially be structured in the future,” he said.

“This health system reform could take over the next five to ten years to roll out, but within that time people and whānau on the ground want to see outcomes and see change.”

“We have a big window of opportunity in front of us; something like this doesn’t happen very often, having such a shift towards integrating more Māori elements into our health landscape. This is a new era, a new frontier for Aotearoa moving forward.”

Established under the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act 2022, Localities exist to offer more people-centred, equitable and accessible healthcare to improve the experience of communities, particularly for Māori, Pacific Island, and people with disabilities.

Over the next eight weeks the working group will go through an intensive design sprint, to create two prototype initiatives that support rangatahi mental health and wellbeing in the Taikorihi Locality.

Tereana Ihakara has hit the ground running, joining the roopu soon after starting her new role with Healthy Families Far North out of Te Rūnanga ō Whaingaroa.

The 24-year-old said she’s excited to elevate the voices of rangatahi, ensuring their voices are heard for the betterment of our future.

“My vision for Te Tai Tokerau is to see that rangatahi are always at the decision-making table when it comes to making decisions that impact us/them.”

“I’m excited about what something like this means for our generation and for generations to come. It’s still early days, but this is an opportunity for us to change the system of healthcare and to inform healthcare delivery with the needs of our rangatahi at the heart.”

Taikorihi Programme Manager JJ Ripikoi said since Taikorihi was launched in Te Hiku in mid-2022, four priority areas have been established, including taitamariki and mental health, māmā and pēpi, primary care and access, and housing.

“To date, we have spoken to 1600 whānau up here in Te HIku and rangatahi health and wellbeing were some of the priorities. This is a big kaupapa for us and I believe that rangatahi-designed and delivered initiatives are what everybody wants,” he said.

For more information on Taikorihi, visit www.taikorihi.co.nz