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New whaanau lounge for rangatahi at Taunaki Mental Health

Our Taunaki Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services has officially opened Maota, the new whaanau lounge, and Mamanu, a shared vegetable garden.

The new spaces are safe and comfortable areas for young people and their families to feel at ease and engaged, and are the result of more than three years’ work by staff from across Mental Health services, and rangatahi who played a key role in the shared decision making.

Youth Consumer Advisor, Angela Hann says our young people wanted a space to call their own.

“They want a place where they can feel proud of who they are and that reflects youth culture.

“I worked with rangatahi from the beginning of the design process to let them lead and create a space they could call their own. Once I gathered some insight of the vision, I advocated on their behalf to get the space as close to how they wanted it as possible.”

At Maota, rangatahi can select music of their choice and rearrange the seating set up with couches and bean bags. The walls are colourful, there are toys and charging ports for them to use, relatable decor on the walls and healthy food such as fruit bowls and snacks for them to access.

“Additional to youth specific changes, there was a strong vision to move away from a clinical-feeling environment and making the space more comfortable like a lounge or bedroom. There are rugs in each room, as well as cushions, throw blankets, house plants, a water cooler and coffee tables.”

The rangatahi were also mindful that they were sharing the space with tamariki as well as parents, so there are magazines and books as well as a hot drinks machine for parents and colouring-in supplies, kids’ tables and chairs, and a play kitchen for younger children.

Angela says she will keep gathering feedback from our community and tangata whaiora to continuously improve the space and services.

“Our next improvement will be to have stories of recovery to provide hope for our young people. Additionally, we hope to fill our hallways with art created by tangata whaiora. We want these initiatives to further empower our young people to continue their journey of wellness.”

The names of the spaces honour the strong connection the Counties Manukau area has to the Pacific Islands with Maota, a Samoan honorific and respectful title name given for the house of chiefs and Mamanu, the Niuean name of a fern that is common in the Pacific and has many healing and decorative uses.

“ Maota Taunaki lounge was a name gifted to the lounge by matua Aufata and we proudly hang a tapa cloth on the most visible wall from the front entrance to reinforce this identity.

“Our new community garden, which we share with our Matariki, Mamanu Garden is in place to help reconnect young people to nature and possibly for use in cooking classes in the future.”

“The names were also chosen to honour children and young people and together they show Taunaki's dedication to ensure young people and whaanau have confidence and trust in their care.”

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