Wellbeing advocate Paul Rangiwahia works with WITT

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WITT Te Pūkenga ākonga will benefit from the work of local mental health advocate Paul Rangiwahia next year (Ngāti Ruanui, Taranaki). Six of Paul’s large artworks are being installed at the Ngāmotu campus over the summer break to help get wellness conversations started.

“We know visibility and normalising mental health conversations is the first step of the wellness journey and these artworks are a mixture of thought-provoking imagery and information pieces,” says Paul Rangiwahia.

Paul is known for his use of creativity to help connect people to wellbeing tools and break down barriers to mental health.

“We are dedicated to supporting the health and wellness of ākonga and Paul’s approach to mental wellbeing complements what we have in place to care for the mental wellness of ākonga,” says WITT Te Pūkenga Team Leader Health and Pastoral Support Joanah Phillips.

The artworks form part one of a mental health pilot programme at WITT. The second stage of the pilot will see Paul work with three groups of ākonga over eight weeks to create personal guides for them to use in their own lives.

He uses a rocket ship artwork as a framework to help people identify the things that take them forward, make big decisions and cope when things go off course

Paul says following a plan helps people to develop healthy habits and a pattern of success.

“We are focused on supporting the growth and development of the whole person at WITT and developing self-awareness and resilience will only help ākonga in their studies and their life beyond WITT,” says Joanah.

Participating ākonga will use a personal wellbeing index tool to measure how they feel before and after working with Paul as part of the trial programme.

Paul is approaching the 10-year anniversary of using his art to connect with people and help break down the stigma around mental health. His talks and workshops are popular with schools, businesses and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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