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Course helps turn lives around

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012
Kaumatua
JESS ETHERIDGE

MAORI WELLBEING: From left: Kaumatua Kingi Davis Snr, Mana Tane course volunteer Ojasvin Davis and student Omeka Takiari.

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Reconnecting with his Maori roots and beliefs has helped Omeka Takiari turn his life around.

The 47-year-old from Hillcrest struggled with alcholism and had a "rough time" with family members.

He drank on Karangahape Rd in central Auckland and says he was "in a vacuum".

"There's something better than this," he thought and he decided to seek out a support network.

Mana Tane is a "time space for men to feel good and support everyone", says Ojasvin Davis, who runs the course with his mother Rangi.

Organised by volunteers, Mana Tane empowers men through Maori ancestral teachings and tikanga, as well as services such as counselling, Mr Davis says.

He says historical trauma and crime have contributed to how some Maori men behave but understanding the past can empower.

Mana Tane is not just for Maori, Mr Davis says, as those who have an interest in rebuilding and learning about the culture are welcome.

Mr Takiari has reconnected with Maori social networks through Mana Tane and is now training to be a Maori Warden for the North Shore.

Without Maori networks, a culture of fear and anti-social behaviour develops, Mr Takiari says.

He is now learning te reo through Northcote's Awataha marae and works with tourists who want to know more about the Maori culture.

"It's like I belong."

Mr Davis, who studied at the MIN-I.L.I.T. institute in Switzerland, says the course is about wairua tanga, or spiritual wellbeing.

Kaumatua Kingi Davis Snr, who offers his time to the course, says helping men move past their pride and gain confidence is key. "It gives them an opportunity with the right guidance to get back on track."

The free course is sponsored by Te Puna Whanau Ora Network and run in conjunction with Mana Wahine Taumatatanga Trust and the Hato Petera community.

Call 480 2362 or email info@ manawahine.org for information on the next course in February.

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- North Shore Times

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