Te Whare Wānanga o Te Kurahuna is the kaitiaki of Mahi a Atua, a ‘way of being’ which privileges Indigenous knowledge and practice as the basis for strengthening best practice, addressing institutional racism and realising equitable outcomes for Māori. Described as a revolutionary first for mental health and addiction services in Aotearoa (Tipene-Leach, Able, Hiha, & Matthews, 2019), Mahi a Atua was operationalised by Te Kūwatawata ki Tairāwhiti in 2017; a pilot project seeking to fully transform mental health and addiction service delivery through an Indigenous-led Single Point of Entry (SPoE).
This report is structured in three sections. Section One, in exploring the long call for transformation in Aotearoa, investigates the wider context in relation to equity, institutional racism, and the existing transformative paradigms of whānau ora, Kaupapa Māori, and cultural safety: evidence bases of direct relevance to Te Kurahuna, Mahi a Atua, and Te Kūwatawata. Section Two describes the philosophy and practice of Te Kurahuna, Mahi a Atua, and Te Kūwatawata. The outcomes and key success factors of Te Kūwatawata, alongside challenges are also described, along with how institutional racism manifests in the privileging of the currently favoured integrated primary mental health and addictions model. Section Three offers concluding commentary on two themes: the courage of Te Kurahuna to advance a fully transformative agenda; and the critical importance of a collective commitment to fully engaging in the complete transformation process.
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