by Supplied.

Non-Verbal Therapy Through a Māori Model of Health

Te ao Māori is the Māori world view where we believe that everything is connected. Sir Mason Durie’s model of health, Te Whare Tapa Whā, highlights how wellbeing comes from ensuring that you take care of all four walls of your whare (house).

These four walls are te taha hinengaro (mental/emotional wellbeing), te taha wairua (spiritual wellbeing), te taha tinana (physical wellbeing) and te taha whānau (family/social wellbeing). It suggests that if one wall is unstable, we are unbalanced and may need support. This model is similar to the Pacifika people’s model Fonefale. These models can work for people from all backgrounds and cultures.

Music has always been an integral part of Te Ao Māori through its instruments, waiata, kapa haka and their ability to share stories and pass on whakapapa.

Methodist Social Services Hamilton (MSSH) sees the importance of this with our people in the disability, mental health and youth sectors. We understand that talking therapies are not for everyone and research shows that Māori are 12 percent less likely than non-Māori to access supports. Because of this, we wanted to share an exciting programme that brings together culture and therapy to help improve the lives and lessen the burdens of all those who join.

We believe that some demographics such as youth, Māori and people with mental health difficulties have a perceived unwillingness to share their troubles. Our music expression class provides an avenue for all aspects of te whare tapa whā to be addressed without participants feeling like they are undergoing therapy.

Non-verbal therapy is a fantastic way to express yourself without the feeling of total vulnerability. Music expression classes provide a safe space to share pain, trauma, happiness or whatever aspect of life needs expressing. It allows people to see the beauty in your story at times when you may not be able to express it in other ways.

Our music expression class is run by Jack De Thierry who owns a music studio called De Stylez. Jack has had many years of experience working with teenagers in the youth justice and Oranga Tamariki environment as well as the disability sector, helping people release trauma and face their difficulties through music. Jack has partnered with us to create a safe group space to create and share.

The programme is tailored to every individual who attends and they can work at their own pace. The classes are a place where people can come and try musical instruments, lyric writing, singing/rapping, performing and beat-making guided by Jack and their own interests and ideas. A holistic approach ensures that we assist people to connect with others offering services beyond our scope of practice and expertise.

On 9 June we hosted an Open Day showcasing the instruments and gear, meeting tutor Jack, learning about the programme and its tikanga as well as being introduced to the other programmes the centre has on offer. It was a hands-on experience where people were encouraged to try everything that was on offer. The disability students were intrigued and left with smiles, having shared personal stories and loud music.

Our Facebook page ensured that our connections with other services brought many new faces into the centre who shared their instruments, goals and stories. We were so excited about the passion and connection our programme made in only one session.

Music comes in many forms and genres: some we like and some we don’t and that’s the beauty of music; it’s a very individual experience.