The New Zealand Association of Counsellors [NZAC] was originally put together as an Association for School Guidance Counsellors in the early ‘70s. NZAC has grown to over 2,000 counsellors and psychotherapists, offering services where ever they are needed.
In 1985 a Māori woman studying for her Diploma in Counselling found that Māori children were left out of the equation for counselling needs. She challenged the Lecturer to be more effective by adding social constructive issues in Māori society within his programme. That was the beginning of the challenges which eventually led to NZAC being challenged for their “one method suits all” system for the care and welfare of counsellors.
At the 1993 AGM, NZAC members were asked to support the idea of setting up an organisation for Māori counsellors. At that time there were approximately twenty to thirty Māori counsellors within NZAC, and no forum were available for Māori to discuss and/or share ideas of counselling within their own tikanga practices. When challenged in 1993, NZAC members supported their Māori partners, and the first $500.00 was granted to set up the inaugural hui of 1993 held at the Waikato University Te Kohinga Marama Marae.
In 1994, an Auckland group held the leadership and in 1996 a Waikato group picked up the threads and began to re-weave the whariki to care for our registered members. Visits to Auckland, Gisborne, Tauranga and Hastings took place in the following years, to promote the organisation; with a few more added to the membership.
In 2003, a Hui a Tau was held at Te Kuiti marae, where Te Tau Ihu came on board and in 2005 Te Upoko o Te Ika became a branch and have held the National Executive role since November 2007.
Maniapoto, Te Upoko o Te Ika and Te Tau Ihu have all created their rohe groups under the umbrella of Te Whariki Tautoko and have elected their representatives to deal with regional needs and membership.
Since 1993, Te Whariki Tautoko has grown slowly while the number of Māori counsellors and community helpers has been steady.
“Supervision” is not a supportive word for many Māori mental health workers and the need for a “listening post,” a mentor, kaumātua or a group within which they may share their ideas, and learn from, in workshop situations has always been pivotal to the values of Te Whariki Tautoko. Te Whariki Tautoko supports the provision of forum for robust discussion and facilitates solutions to address the needs of Māori.
Dedicated individuals like Sir Mason Durie, Dr Rose Pere and many others, provide a constant and consistent guide in shifting perceptions that reflect a truthful history of Aotearoa. We look forward to a brighter future for Māori counsellors and community helpers who join Te Whariki Tautoko.
Cultural differences have been a concern for most tauiwi organisations. Therefore it is important that Māori themselves take care of the mana and development of their people. Māori have a strong cultural background and given the right, and the space to create a robust organisation that has relevance, we have the potential to make a difference.