Talking suicide prevention with our rangatahi

Rangatahi from across the Wellington region gathered to talk about the topic of suicide and to show each other that support was out there.

Published: Wednesday, 20 December 2017 | Rāapa, 20 Hakihea, 2017

A hundred students attended the Au.E! Rangatahi Suicide Prevention conference at the Walter Nash centre in Taita in early December.

Building on the success of the first conference, Te Puni Kōkiri again partnered with Te Rau Matatini to run the event.

Te Puni Kōkiri senior advisor Arthur Grooby says the aim of the event was to increase awareness around suicide prevention and to reassure rangatahi that help is available.

“The first Au.E! Conference was led by rangatahi and it was important that the second one was again led by rangatahi,” he says.

“It needed to be focused on building resilience, knowledge, strength and pride in ones-self – celebrating who they are.”

Rangatahi spent the day participating in workshops that focused on celebrating their uniqueness, encouraging pride, acknowledging their talents and getting to listen to some inspirational speakers.

Sons of Zion and basketball mentor to Steve Adams, Kenny McFadden spent time talking with rangatahi, sharing their own stories about growing up and passing on good messages about the importance of having goals and persevering to achieve them.

Rangatahi tried their hand at basketball, table tennis, make-up, spray-painting, music making, video motion, mau rākau and haircutting.

Te Puni Kōkiri intern Jordan King says he was impressed by the variety and quality of activities offered.

“It was awesome to see all this effort put towards a demographic that can be overlooked,” he says.

“It's not easy to find a solution to this problem but I don’t think you can put a price on our rangatahi being happy and positive.”

As the conference came to a close, students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Whanui performed a haka to give thanks to event organisers and volunteers.

Gifted with a goody-bag at their departure, it was clear that the rangatahi left with bigger smiles than what they had arrived with.