Taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments) are proving to be effective tools in reducing respiratory issues for Māori men.
Rotorua Smokefree Partnership Group reconvened for the year with a presentation to the group from health mentor and taonga puoro advocate, Sam Runga.
Sam shared his story on how he could better manage his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the effects of smoking after completing Korowai Aroha Health Centre’s Whaimua respiratory programme and learning to play the kōauau (flute) and other Māori wind instruments.
Healthy Families Rotorua systems innovator, Teteira Ormsby, says the group felt privileged to gain valuable insights while hearing Sam’s story and the tunes he composed.
“There was a time when Sam was unable to get up and complete small tasks, such as walking to his mailbox, without falling over from shortness of breath. But his life has made an absolute turnaround since doing the Whaimua programme and being introduced to taonga puoro. His respiratory system has increased, enabling him to blow into a kōauau for minutes without difficulty. His breathing and mental well-being has improved, and he’s given up smoking.
“The use of the taonga puoro has been huge for Sam and it’s further evidence that mātauranga Māori systems can help improve health issues where conventional methods have not been successful. He now goes out and supports other people who are trying to give up smoking and have respiratory issues. It’s about encouraging the adaptation of an initiative to fit cultural, social, and environmental situations,” says Teteira.
He says part of Rotorua Smokefree Partnership Group’s intention is to provide opportunities for people from the local community to share their unique stories so the group can gather insights and lived realities.
“It allows us to foster relationships with people like Sam and identify ways we can support them and gauge an understanding of what’s happening at a community level. We believe it’ll help our group move forward as we prepare to co-design and collaborate on prevention strategies and initiatives for our region,” says Teteira.
Rotorua Smokefree Partnership Group is a collaboration of Healthy Families Rotorua, Te Arawa Whānau Ora, Te Whatu Ora Lakes, Hāpai te Hauora, Manaaki Ora Trust, Rotorua Cancer Society, Toi Te Ora Rotorua, and Rotorua Lakes Council.