Mahi māra initiative aims to foster mental health and wellbeing


Healing through mara kai. That’s the idea behind an event
at a North Shore primary school to mark Mental Health
Awareness Week. As Te Okiwa McLean reports, students at Birkdale Primary
got their hands dirty and got planting. Despite the awful weather
there’s still work to be done. Raising awareness
for Mental Health Awareness Week, the community of Birkdale
on the North Shore have come together to learn about
traditional gardening, mara kai. There are physical and spiritual
benefits to gardening. This workshop was set up
by Marist Alternative Education and Hapai Te Hauora, bringing everyone together
of all ages to work together. It brings ancient matauranga
to the heart of the big smoke. They haven’t grown up
surrounded by the knowledge of their ancestors. So this experience exposes
them to that knowledge. Maori men and Maori youth
are overrepresented in suicide statistics. Francis contends there is healing
in doing a bit of gardening in the mara kai. When it’s time for cultivation
the fruit of their hard labour will go back to the wider community. As the saying goes, if the mind is clear
and the spirit is free all things are possible. Te Okiwa McLean, Te Karere.

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