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Terence turns a new leaf

Terence turns a new leaf
Terence and Carmen O'Carroll from Tui Ora

Last Updated: July 2018

A year ago Terence Tutahione was an angry man with driving convictions and an untreated alcohol addiction.

But since attending a marae-based rehabilitation programme - Te Ihu Waka - Terence is now helping others address their problems. Tui Ora is contracted by the Department of Corrections to run the national week-long programme, available to those serving community-based sentences.

Terence was skeptical despite his probation officer recommending the course which covers Māori tikanga, exercising, cooking, cleaning and talking through well-being issues like suicide.He had lost his licence after a drink-driving conviction, and was working through a sentence of home detention.

“I was an angry person. I didn’t see the point of going on the programme as didn’t think it would work.”

As a youngster growing up in South Taranaki, Terence recalls his parents speaking Te Reo but wasn’t interested in learning. “I wasn’t a fan.”

For 20 years, Terence lived in the Bay of Islands until the illness of his Mum brought him back to Taranaki four years ago.

Learning about his cultural heritage changed Terence’s perspective.

“I started to understand more about Māori and to like people more. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my time running from the law, I wanted to be part of the law. My lawyer has seen a big change -he’s rapt with me. Now I have the keys to help other people change their lives.”

Learning about suicide prevention struck a chord as Terence’s teenage niece had recently taken her life.

“The only way you are going to change your life is to change yourself. You can go to any programme in the world and nothing will be different unless you want it to be.”

Terence is now a captain in Destiny Church’s Man Up peer support programme, where men work alongside others dealing with violence, drug and alcohol addiction issues. Terence is supporting two of his brothers while self-employed as a lawn-mowing contractor.He hopes to spread the programme to Manaia and Patea.

“We listen to their problems. It takes the weight off their shoulders because they’re carrying a lot. I have seen guys, those who have been in gangs, turn their lives around. We can be there for them, awhi them, let them move on.”

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