Taranaki Maori launch Tupeka Kore, the no tobacco project
Taranaki Maori are getting back to basics by embracing a smoke-free project.
The Tupeka Kore Challenge was introduced June 1 at New Plymouth's Te Kohanga Reo (TKR) O Waiwhakaiho to help Maori families reach smoke-free goals.
"Quitting is harder than being a mother. It's harder than being a teacher," Inglewood's Te Rangiora TKR Eliza Wilson said.
The goal is to get everyone involved smoke free by December 2016 and the way to achieve that is to stick together.
* South Kaipara wins national smokefree challenge
* Taranaki has above average number of people dying from cancer
* Budget 2016: Cigarettes to soar in price
* Manawatu health advocate applauds cigarette tax hike
The project was created to educate Maori families on healthier life choices by shifting the focus to children.
"Quitting smoking was in the core of kohanga but it somehow got lost over the years," Wilson said.
"I go into the classroom and I know that I stink."
Wilson said she has smoked her whole life, giving up once five years ago before stress and anxiety got her to start again.
"It isn't an easy journey and you can't do it by yourself. This project has a support group."
The smoke-free project was tailored to focus on core issues in Maori culture and is careful not to shame smokers.
"Having support is essential. I have it at home and now I'll have it at work."
"Smoking is the weakest part of my life," Wilson said.
Created by Maori for Maori, the project will offer workshops, which should begin next month.
Chairman Tamati Neho said it was time to return to Maori culture and protect Maori children.
"We used to not be at the top of these charts you see now. It's as though smoking became a part of our culture," Neho said.
"We've always been a fit culture and it's time to get back to that. It's not going to change over a day but we have to change our frame of mind," Neho said.
Neho said Maori children grow up and see their family smoke, so they think it's OK.
"It's time to shift away from thinking it's normal," Neho said.
"In reality, it was never a part of our people."
"I didn't want to see Maori become another statistic."