Jamie Turama Tuahuriri Downes

Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Maniapoto

Jamie's Story

When Jamie started to kōrero with others after losing both his eyesight and his vision for Māori, he found strength. Eye surgery and support from whānau and friends allowed him to carry on his mission, and overcome his depression.

I was losing my sight - I was losing my vision

I was 21. I started to go blind; I had what they call keratoconus and there was nothing more that they could do. I started to just eat and that was my kind of safe place – I blew out to 174 kilos.

All sorts of things affect your mental health

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I had a vision for my people as Māori and literally when that’s robbed away from you, there is no reason to live

I just felt empty; it felt like there was nothing that could really take it away at the time. I didn’t want to talk about anything to anyone.

Depression or anxiety is different for everyone

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I had to first connect with the wairua, through karakia, waiata and also regular visits to the awa

The main thing that I had to do was kōrero; was talk and unload. I actually started to release all of these pressures. When I thought of my niece Amelia and uncle David, it made me karakia; this lightness and this ease came upon me, this peace came upon me.

There are things that can help you get through

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I wanted to pass on this feeling and we talked about how we could help in the community

We have got a Breakthrough Wellness Centre, where to us this place is a modern day marae; fitness, health, whakawhanaunātanga, kai, kōrero. We are inclusive because to us what’s good for Māori is good for everyone.

There are changes you can make to stay well

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We want to help people to get healthy because healthy bodies will create a healthy mind

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