Tairāwhiti community are demonstrating leadership to their council in creating smokefree spaces. Tairāwhiti council's new draft Smokefree Outdoor Area Policy (SFOA) designates parks, playgrounds, and ‘destination’ beaches (Midway, Waikanae, Kaiti, Wainui and Okitu) as smoke-free.
Gisborne mayor Meng Foon said in a recent interview with Māori television, “That's the council's aim, as well as Tairāwhiti Health and iwi health groups- to bring this matter to the attention of all of the families here. We want to improve the health of the people within our communities."
While the public are now being asked if the CBD, wharf, and other public areas should be included, community members have responded that they have been taking initiative creating smokefree spaces prior to any policy.
What are community thoughts on policy around creating smokefree spaces?
Community member, Jackie Williams (Tōrere), feels that the timeworn statistics on Tairāwhiti having the highest smoking rates don’t necessarily reflect what she sees at a community level:
“The Gisbourne community has long been creating smokefree spaces. Smoking around here is becoming less and less because people are becoming more aware of health. I’m lucky to already be living and working within smokefree spaces- no one at work smokes or at home which I’m so grateful for”.
These sentiments around community led leadership are also echoed by the local health sector. Aporina Chapman, Senior Health Promotion Advisor at Hauora Tairawhiti, states that community will embrace these policies because they are consistent with what whānau are already doing for improved wellbeing: “There will be positive change like we've seen with our Tamararo kapa haka, like we've seen at our waka ama events and like we've seen with our Māori sports events. There will be an acceptance”.
Hauora is the heart beat of any community
Mrs Williams states that becoming a smoke-free community requires looking at the health of a whole person, not just looking at one aspect like smoking. Across the region, whānau continue to embrace initiatives within the natural world, with atua Māori, as a way of restoring, reconnecting and fostering wellbeing. This includes regular community hikoi up Mt Hikurangi which “has taken off” and waka ama.
“I’m in full support of creating smoke-free policies because you can’t be what you can’t see, but what we do well down here is focusing on overall health. Like the acronym “new start”, we feel health is linked to nutrition, exercise, water, sunlight, temperance, air, rest, and trust”.