Tauawhi Men’s Centre | HMA

Tauawhi Men’s Centre 


In 2011, I ran a workshop in Gisborne for staff from the Tauawhi Men’s Centre. What a pleasure it was to go back and run a one-day intensive for the program team and a one-day public event for workers from the Tairāwhiti community working to disrupt whānau/family violence. Working with organisations that have longevity in the mahi/work is a pleasure.  

Tairāwhiti has an interesting place in the history of Aotearoa/New Zealand. In 1769 when Captain James Cook first sighted New Zealand, during the very first encounter, nine local Māori were killed. You might agree this is not the best way to begin a relationship. One of the key challenges to our field of practice is to understand that violence is more complex than a narrative around gender inequality, coercive control and patriarchy. These ideas have led to ‘carceral feminism’ as the remedy. However, in my view, while arrest policy and holding those who harm to account is important for breaking patterns of behaviour, we also need to hold in view the legacy of colonisation, systemic racism, and the impacts of intergenerational trauma. This is a particular case for First Nation people. This is where organisations such as the Tauawhi Men’s Centre are critically important.  

While the work they do is very typical of many organisations (providing a drop-in centre for men, offering social work, non-violence programmes, counselling and advocacy support), it is how they do the work that sets them apart. The vision for the centre is to provide an obvious place for men to access help and contribute to positive change for them and their whānau. And they do this in a way that acknowledges and protects mana tangata. This means they respect the rights of choice, self-determination and tino rangatiratanga. They also host services of Tauawhi Trust that include peer support for male survivors of sexual abuse and counselling for addiction issues. The model is powerfully based on peer-led, professionally supported practice. In next month’s newsletter, we will feature on the Talking with Ken podcast an interview with Vic Tumati, Tim Marshall and Dr David Coydre about this model that is best captured by the Safe Man, Safe Family model. It is based on the idea of redemption. 

I’m always humbled by the willingness of men to partner alongside women in the process whānau/family violence. Thank you for allowing me to join you in sharing knowledge about what effective practice can look like. 

Published on Tuesday, March 5th, 2024, under Family violence, Programme design & development

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