Maori Perspectives

Four Maori Korero about their experience of Mental Illness

The following excerpt is taken from a document prepared by Liz Fenton and Te Wera Te Koutua in the Mental Health Commission recovery series. It is copyright free. Written in March 2000.  It contains general information and recommendations for recovery as well as four personal stories.

“For Maori tangata whaiora the recovery process is more a journey of rediscovery. Ko wai? No whea? Naa wai? (Who are you? Where do you come from? Who are your parents?) Knowing the connections that make them who they are is the foundation of recovery. For many, this foundation is missing because the traditional tribal nature of Maori culture has been gradually eroded by the effects of colonisation and urbanisation. Along with the loss of identity and separation from nga tikanga o ratou maa, the mental health system has mistakenly diagnosed experiences such as hearing voices or having visions.

Our old people believed these experiences were te ao wairua which connected us to past, present and future. This ability to communicate with our tupuna was once viewed as very important. Today there is a resurgence of returning to the old ways, yet it is disturbing to see the negative impact the western medical model still has on Maori tangata whaiora.”

Download entire PDF below.


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