Skip to content

Improving youth mental health and wellbeing through The Kindness Institute’s kaupapa Māori mental health program

A group of young people gathered together

The Kindness Institute’s Atawhai program helps improve young people’s mental, spiritual and cultural wellness in Auckland, New Zealand

A group of young people gathered together

We are proud to continue our support of The Kindness Institute in 2024 with $50,000 in funding to support the expansion of the Atawhai program. The evidence-based and scientifically-proven Atawhai program helps to improve the mental health and wellbeing of marginalised rangatahi (young people) in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). 

As part of our 2023 partnership, we were able to connect The Kindness Institute with nib’s partner, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. The latest Atawhai cohort included 7 rangatahi from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. In 2024 The Kindness Institute will be delivering the Atawhai program directly through Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to their rangatahi with specialised iwi guidance and knowledge.

Atawhai is a kaupapa Māori and tikanga (culture) driven resilience and mental health program for 13-18 year olds, based on Te Whare Tapa Whā framework. The rangatahi-led program is run over a 6-month period and includes two intensive week-long camps, monthly wānanga, development sessions and ongoing mentoring. The program supports rangatahi holistically through activities including yoga, mindfulness, self-reflection and creative arts with the aim of equipping them with lifelong communication, stress management and resilience skills.

Rangatahi Māori are disproportionately impacted when it comes to mental health challenges, so supporting programs like Atawhai is an important way to empower young people to learn new skills and adopt healthy habits to protect their mental wellbeing. 

Recent Atawhai graduate, Uniqa, says “The Atawhai programme has done a lot for me in terms of realisation, knowledge and growth. I have learnt many things while attending the kaupapa and I am grateful to have been exposed to the helpful tools that are provided. The tools have supported me with stress, bad sleeping, anxiety, confidence and more! The biggest change that I've experienced since joining Te Atawhai is in my mindset. My mind is more open and non-judgemental towards myself and others. I feel as though The Atawhai has also helped build on my resilience towards life. Overall it has made me stronger and a better person. I also notice that (in terms of self confidence) I am more outgoing and less afraid to be myself in public settings in comparison to previous years.”

The most recent cohort of participants graduated from the Atawhai program in December 2023 at an event hosted by Toi Ora, the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Health Team.