Funding boost provides counselling services, agricultural training for Māori in rural Otago

Jo Kingi, Hoani Wipaki and Tia Potae.
Jo Kingi, Hoani Wipaki and Tia Potae. Photo credit: Supplied / MPI

It's hoped a number of workshops for Māori in rural parts of south Otago will help get more young people into the shearing industry, as well give them tools to care for their mental health.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirmed on Tuesday it had stepped in to provide Māori health and social service provider Tokomairiro Waiora with almost $54,000.

The funding will go towards counselling services aimed at helping Māori with addiction and mental health issues in rural parts of the region, with the support enough to secure the programme until April 2022.

"These counselling workshops provide participants, and their whānau and hapū, with tools and support to help improve their wellbeing and resilience," said Andrew McConnell, MPI’s director of Māori Agribusiness.

"Our financial support will enable this service to continue in the short-term while the organisation investigates long-term funding."

McConnell said the funding will also be used to run health workshops in Milton and Lawrence for shearers and their whānau.

Three wānanga, which include on-farm experience and learning, will also be held to encourage young people into careers in the primary industries. 

Tokomairiro Waiora Incorporated manager Jo Kingi said the wānanga will focus on shearing, which is a big employer in the area.

"We hope it will help address the current shortage of shearers," Kingi said.

Careers in agriculture and forestry will also be promoted. 

"The wānanga will also offer wellbeing support, and meditation, budgeting, literacy and life skills. Some rangatahi in the sector struggle due to mental health issues and poor life choices outside of work," he said.

The wānanga will be held in April, May and July.