Keri Opai and Tracy Amstad (AOD Peer Support Specialist) last month attended a two day forum organised by the New Zealand Drug Foundation called Te Pae – Our Health.
Discussions were held at the Parliamentary Symposium addressing unmet needs and reducing drug harm to our whānau, the discussion involved included questions such as
- What are some of the unmet health needs for people that use drugs, that exacerbate and even cause drug harm?.
- What is the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and how can we harness it?'
- What steps are others taking towards preventing overdose that we need to consider here in Aotearoa as overdose fatalities grow?
- What health needs aren't being met for people labelled 'drug-seeking' by their health practitioners?
The guest speakers shared practical, evidence-based solutions and ideas, and ask what is needed to address unmet health needs and build political agreement.
The second day was held at Te Whare Waka along the seafront. Attended by Lived and Living Experienced Peers, a place to connect, learn and collaborate, where lived and living experienced kaimahi could have their voice heard and the patai raised would be taken straight to Parliament.
Firstly, Kurt Komene of Taranaki Iwi, who now resides in Wellington opened with a Karakia, and proceeded to unveil the Kupu Hou. The name has been developed for the NZ Drug Foundation by Keri, who is working to develop new, destigmatising kupu Māori for mental health and diagnoses such as ADHD and autism.
Keri proceeded to explain the development and understanding of the kupu as follows:
Te Puna Whakaiti Pāmamae Kai Whakapiri.
In its entirety, the name describes that the NZ Drug Foundation is an organisation working towards an Aotearoa without harm from drugs.
Te Puna: is a well-spring. A metaphoric description of what the Foundation is, as a resource, catalyst, support, policy shop, developer of new interventions, champion, a partner and enabler of others, and problem solver. A go-to source.
Whakaiti Pāmamae: is to reduce harm. Whakaiti, literally mens to 'make small'. Pāmamae, harm. This term describes what the Foundation does across our communications, policy and programmes of work. Māori have long worked to use strategies to manage harms, using things like tohunga practices, rāhui and whānau support. Keri gifts this new phrase to the Foundation, AOD sector and Māori health providers to help us create a term that describes harm reduction in a way that is appropriate for Māori.
Kai Whakapiri: is a newly created generic term for drugs. While there are names of individual drugs (e.g: tio whakihi – methamphetamine), there is not a generic term, except for a stigmatising work whakapōauau', meaning "thing to make one confused".
Stigma and discrimination have demonstrably compounded drug harm, preventing people from seeking help. Therefore, it was important for Keri and the Foundation to find a term that would tackle this.
Kai Whakapiri reframes the term 'drug' from the stigma and discrimination that comes with addiction and drug use and instead associates it with the human need of seeking connection. Māori have had more than our fair share of disconnection: from our reo, our whenua, our whakapapa, our culture and, for some, from whānau. For those who have worked in, or been through addiction treatment, they report a recurring story of disconnection. Both Pākeha and Māori have used substances to help them connect, the most common one being alcohol. We aren't endorsing that, but we also don't judge it.
The term secondarily suggests a social aspect associated with drugs/substance.
Some Kai Whakapiri have a rongoā or health benefits that are becoming more widely understood, such as medicinal cannabis or psychedelics, connecting those who use them to, and restoring, their tinana and enabling participation in whānau and society.
The new ingoa Māori sits alongside the NZ Drug Foundation's English name, replacing our existing "Te Tūāpapa Tarukino o Aotearoa'. It is encouraged that people use the phrases 'whakaiti pāmamae' and 'kai whakapiri'. However, the ingoa Māori 'Te Puna Whakaiti Pāmamae Kai Whakapiri' is used, it is intended to be used in full and abbreviated, out of respect for te reo Māori.