Thursday, 29 June 2017 08:55

Iwi farms sign for mental health boost

Written by 
Claire Bourne, Ngai Tahu Farming. Claire Bourne, Ngai Tahu Farming.

The Whanau in the award-winning mental health programme GoodYarn has just got bigger.

Ngai Tahu Farming has recently signed to put on GoodYarn workshops for its staff and agricultural students. This business has about 100,000ha of South Island land in dairy, grazing, red meat and forestry. It produces 35 million litres of milk a season.

People and development manager Claire Bourne says Ngai Tahu Farming took up GoodYarn because it is “in line with one of our values -- manaakitanga (looking after our people)”.

She says 50 people will be involved each year to “keep kaimahi (staff) healthy, safe and focused on initiatives that promote and foster their own wellbeing, resilience and grit”.

Organisations wanting to offer GoodYarn must undergo a licensing programme to train their staff in running the workshops on how to stay healthy, recognise stress in others and respond effectively.

GoodYarn was last year named joint Best Mental Health Promotion/Illness Prevention scheme at the Australia and New Zealand TheMHS (Mental Health Services) Conference. Recently it was a finalist in the national Safeguard awards for best initiative to promote worker health.

Bourne admits rural life can be “challenging”.

“There is isolation and under-developed amenities, so our target audience is our staff, their whanau living in our growing community and our Whenua Kura students who live at our residential hall Kokomuka Lodge.

“We hope GoodYarn will make them aware of mental illness and how common it is for people to experience [this] during their lifetime. [We will] give them skills and resources to recognise when to seek help for themselves or their whānau, friends or co-workers.”

GoodYarn was developed by WellSouth, a primary health organisation, and DairyNZ, as part of the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain Primary Growth Partnership programme.

Dana Carver, DairyNZ’s wellness & wellbeing programme leader, says 19 organisations, including Ngai Tahu Farming, had taken up a licence and were incorporating GoodYarn in their business or the wider communities they worked in.

These included Fonterra, Rabobank and various rural support trusts.

“It’s good to have any business part of the fold, small or large, Maori or not, as this is about reaching an entire industry and creating culture change,” she said.

“However, having Ngai Tahu on board ensures we’re covering the full spectrum of the industry and getting a comprehensive reach.”

That reach is a key to teaching people how to stay healthy and help others.

“Wellness… needs to be owned by everyone in the industry and ownership means delivering the message and putting people and money behind it.”

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