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Meth crisis - call for ‘real solution’

A Gisborne man who has been battling methamphetamine in the community ended up in hospital after a meth user in his own whare (house) attacked him.

Tuta Ngarimu was hit numerous times in the head by a whanau member who was a meth user. When he got to hospital he did a live feed on Facebook to show people the effects meth can have on those who try to support recovering addicts.

Following this situation he put out a call for people to find someone running in the general election who would champion the issues of methamphetamine addiction in Government.

“There needs to be a ‘stand alone' organisation similar to what is happening with suicide, that deals specifically with methamphetamine,” Mr Ngarimu said.

“I'm pushing for whanau out there who don't vote to seriously think about voting at the next election. I want them to look for someone who can champion the call to take this issue forward so we can get some real solutions. We need someone in parliament that champions the issues of methamphetamine.”

The situation that caused this call to action was when whanau woke him up and said one of the whanau was “nutting out”.

“I woke up and walked into the hallway and straight away got attacked. I was half asleep. I had no idea what was going on.”

There were no weapons, it was just “full agro”.

“I could feel I was going down. I was caught off balance because of the intensity of the hits. It was like hammers going, bang, bang, bang.”

He called the police and got the man trespassed. Then he went to hospital to get his injuries checked.

While there, he went live on Facebook.

He said in the video, “I got the bash tonight. Here I am fighting meth all over the place, how much more do we have to take? I don't know what to do now. Just to see that rage meth does when it's used on you.”

Over 22,000 people have viewed the live stream. It sparked an outpouring of supportive comments to Tuta for the work he does.

“Kia kaha Tuta.”

Although there have been positive reactions he is concerned about the reaction from Government organisations like Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children and other agencies, as this is always a worry to whanau when in similar situations.

“It's actually a huge barrier when people need to reach out for help but can't in case agencies move in and start taking action,” he said.

“Oranga Tamariki rang and said they want to meet with me to see how safe my mokopuna are. This situation has sparked all that.”

These situations are what need to be highlighted, Mr Ngarimu said. “We need to get focus on these situations.”

“There is someone in every street of Tairawhiti dealing with the same thing,” he said. So I am taking advantage of this situation. What has arisen from the first live feed, I am dealing with it by confronting everything. If Oranga Tamariki or other agencies want to have the conversation let's do it.”

He is asking for those with power to provide serious resourcing for the whanau coming off meth and support for the whanau who support that person.

“No one is looking after whanau. No one is coming and knocking on the door saying ‘we understand what you are trying to do, here's a support group for you to go to, here's a number you can call, or how can we put a safety plan in place'. There's nothing here or anywhere that does that.

“More resources need to go towards Maori organisations such as Te Kuwatawata and Hiringa Matua as whanau are more open to engaging in these services, and trust them.

“The Government and previous governments have relied on whanau to take in and look after their loved ones impacted by meth. Doing that puts them at considerable risk and the only way they get help is when you call the police and they come lock them up, which is ridiculous.”

Tuta wants to know what is happening with the addictions and mental health facility build the Government put $20 million aside for in the 2019 Budget.

He said people had a lot of issues going on besides ‘P', such as inter-generational trauma.

“I think people haven't dealt with their issues and they go to drugs or alcohol to use it to deal with pain and trauma they are feeling to get some temporary relief. It starts an addiction and the repercussions and outcomes can be really, really bad for you, the person with the issue and those around them.”

DONT METH AROUND: After being attacked by whanau in his own home Tuta Ngarimu is calling for someone to champion the issues of methamphetime addiction in this year's general election. Picture by Paul Rickard

  1. Mary-Ann de Kort says:

    I wish you well Tuta.
    Perhaps the Covid19 lock down will have both positive and negative outcomes.
    Firstly the supply chain for ‘p’ and other drugs will be affected so users will be forced into withdrawal and able to get the monkey off their backs.
    Sadly, that withdrawal is likely to result in extra violence and the breaking of the isolation rules.

  2. Sophie Kahika, Opotiki says:

    Wish you all the best, be awesome if you could korero to many rangatahi who have made that choice and ones who are deciding that it’s an easy way out.

  3. Elaine McIntosh, Hamilton says:

    So much of what Tuta has said is true – inter-generational trauma, the risk of Oranga Tamariki knocking on the door, addictions and mental health. Tied up with these issues we also have poverty, homelessness, transience, family violence and more. It’s sad to see a man who has done so much to try to help others being beaten up in his own home. To add insult to injury, he then gets questioned by Oranga Tamariki about his own mokopuna. It is unfortunate that the consequences of Covid-19 are swallowing up so much money that could otherwise be used to address the above issues.