Flourishing for Everybody – Culture, Health and Wellbeing (part 4)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Kia ora. Thanks very much for that, I was just reflecting on my father, who was part of the rugby, racing and beer culture. And that was where he found his source of support from other men, and as he aged, when the rugby and the racing were no longer there, it was the beer and the pub that was all that was left. And I’m wondering whether that has sort of, you know, resonance with any other parts of our aging communities? DR TE KANI KINGI: Here I might engage my quiet side now. [laughter] I don’t know how to answer that question except to say, that it quite possibly would. And I think it highlights another point that, some accepted cultural practices aren’t… don’t always provide for positive mental health and wellbeing. And I think the key is to adopt those practices that do, as opposed to those that don’t. Going back to our definition about these behaviors that become accepted and embedded, quite often that’s an excuse to, I guess, rationalise and promote bad behaviours. “That’s the way that we’ve always done it.” So I think it’s a good question, but I feel another one’s coming along, too. [laughter] AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, it’s partly – it’s not so much drinking, because in my father’s case, he didn’t, but it was like the pub was the only cultural setting for him to be meeting with his Pākehā, male peers of the same group, and I’m wondering how much that is also a social deficit in our communities, especially for people, once they leave the workforce, where do they actually get that support? DR TE KANI KINGI: I was hoping that’s a rhetorical question? [laughter] Good question, and I – once I reach that age, I will let you know. [laughter] MAL ROBSON : Kia ora. Kia ora, Te Kani. Mal Robson –
DR TE KANI KINGI: Kia ora, Mal. MAL ROBSON: – with Māori mental health, actually. One of the issues that probably confronts my service as a kaupapa Māori service, is the sense that there is some cultural difference that can contribute to wellness and wellbeing for Māori. And I suppose, after getting your definition of culture, it’s – and just from the previous question, you know, that what we define as being our culture and therefore set some cultural constructs about what we think is the “norm”, I’m just wondering whether or not there has been any research to consider the fact that there are cultural values and belief systems that do have a positive, affirming effect for Māori? And not only for Māori, but for non-Māori. And I’m just wondering whether or not in the future, you would consider that as being a stream that we could go down, and use that, and redefine that, so that it does create the positive aspect for Māori.
DR TE KANI KINGI: Yeah. MAL ROBSON: And that wellness and wellbeing actually is a component of total wellness. The previous speaker, the GP, talked about how wellness encompass everything. And so that’s my question, really, is – do you think that we could draw the values and principles from Te Ao Māori and create the framework that Mason Durie has referred to in the past? DR TE KANI KINGI: Yeah. Again, a good question, Mal. And thank you for asking a long question, it gave me time to think about a response. [laughter] I really believe that Māori mental health services have been doing that for a number of years, and I think they’re leading the health sector, not only nationally, but internationally, in terms of the application of culture to health and positive ways. And there’s a number of services that have been around for years – Whaiora, Te Whare Marie, Manawanui, and I guess that they were the early, I guess, services that actually explored the application of culture to health, and particularly to mental health. And fortunately, there’s been a number of good practitioners that have been able to apply culture – Māori culture – to mental health setting in a positive way, and also in ways that take into account cultural diversity. Māori are no longer a homogenous group, and I think the mental health sector – mental health practitioners – and, again, looking at Materoa, have appreciated the need to actually apply culture in a meaningful way, in a positive way, and also in ways that matter to the people receiving care, as opposed to those administering care. And that’s another big challenge, and that’s sometimes – not always, but clinicians might administer cultural therapy in ways that are meaningful to them [laughter] but they may resonate less to those actually using the service, so I think a very dynamic horses for courses approach is required. I think that there’s development required in that area, but I think the Māori mental health sector have, like I said, leading nationally and also internationally in terms of applying models that support this notion of culture and health and wellbeing. CIARAN FOX: Okay. Kia ora. Please put your hands for Dr Te Kani Kingi. [applause]

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