Second chance for Rotorua men facing life-threatening conditions

From left to right: Richard Rautjoki, Anaru Morehu, Tom Hepi, Kevin Pahina and Tim Ryan.

Watch the short video of Anaru Morehu here.

A Rotorua health programme focused on wellbeing and culture is bringing new hope and new life for men with serious health issues.


And thanks to a grant from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust the Tane Takitu Ake programme can continue its work as a trusted referral point for medical, legal and social providers.


Offering a unique holistic health and wellbeing service the programme, run by Korowai Aroha Trust, is credited with saving the lives of men facing seemingly insurmountable health and life challenges.


Two men whose lives have changed since joining the programme are Anaru Morehu and Tom Hepi.


With a background of violence Mr Morehu came to Korowai a very sick man, he says.


“Coming out of prison I was on a dark road and knew there had to be a change, not just for me, but for my whānau too.


“Once I met others on the course I knew I was not alone and no longer felt out of place. This helped me when I was tempted back to my old ways.”


He quit smoking and drinking, changed his diet, exercised and become a different man, embracing his Māori identity and building his courage to continue his journey to recovery.


Similar to Mr Morehu’s story, Mr Hepi heard about the programme after being diagnosed with type-two diabetes.


For Mr Hepi the programme helped him to embrace his identity and taught him the importance of understanding Māori culture and its importance to a healthy diet and lifestyle.


“I have learnt Māori tikanga and now live my life by these principles.


“I learnt to trust in being who I am, I used to trust no one, but now I have a safety net and can trust that I can call on anyone here when I need them.”


The $20,000 grant from Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust means support for Māori men in similar situations will continue in Rotorua.


The innovative programme combines social, physical and clinical interventions, providing tools and skills to make changes and focuses on restoring mana and strength, so the men can become role models in their whānau and the wider community.


It is this support that Mr Morehu says gave him the strength to make long-term changes.


“It is a beautiful programme. I am so thankful to the people who support it, they must be good and kind people”.


Rotorua Trust chairman Stewart Edward says: “The holistic nature of the programme as well as the flow on effect to whānau, makes it invaluable.


“The balance between the clinical and cultural creates a great opportunity to bring men out of isolation, to band together and motivate each other.


“We believe in programmes like this – they have a powerful social return on investment, keeping individuals out of hospital and prison, getting them into employment and restoring families.”


Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust Grants Approved – June 2018


Bay of Plenty Sailing Academy – $4,000

Canoe Racing NZ Inc. – $9,000

Coastguard Maketu – $15,000

Fordland Kindergarten – $15,000

Halberg Disability Sport Foundation – $10,000

Hei Matau Paddlers Inc. – Role Model Students – $5,000

John Paul College – Role Model Student – $500

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation NZ – $3,000

Kaharoa Primary School – $10,000

Korowai Aroha Trust – $20,000

NZ Nutrition Foundation – $5,000

Rhapsody Rotorua – $15,000

Rotorua Community Hospice Trust Inc – $20,000

Rotorua Community Youth Centre Trust – $20,000

Rotorua Lakes Council – $4,000

Rotorua Lakes High School – $8,000

Rotorua Lakes High School – Role Model Student – $1,000

Rotorua Little Theatre Society Inc – $5,000

Sport Bay of Plenty Charitable Trust Board Inc. – $15,000

St Chads Communication Centre Trust – $20,000

St. Stephen’s Church Reporoa/Rerewhakaaitu – $25,000

TalkLink Trust – $20,000

Te Aratu Trust – $10,000

Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho Ake – $6,000

Visions of a Helping Hand – $20,000

Western Heights High School – Role Model Student – $1,000