CHUR! All good, bro? Tips on how to kōrero/talk with the bro about the tough stuff - HE2610

March 2022
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Tips on how to kōrero/talk with the bro about the tough stuff

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March 2022
March 2022
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March 2022


Tips on how to kōrero/talk with the bro about the tough stuff

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
mauri tū, mauri ora

Ka haere takirua ngā mea katoa.

Nothing lives in isolation.

- Papa Rereata Makiha

This resource will help you tautoko/support fellow tāne Māori going through a hard time. You’ll find heaps of tips on how to kōrero/talk with the bro about the tough stuff, and there’s also a handy pull-out card you can share with him.

You’re an absolute legend for being here for your bro – your tautoko could save a life.

Tāne and the three baskets of knowledge

This pūrākau tells the story of Tāne, Whiro and the three baskets of knowledge. We acknowledge all versions of this pūrākau and pay homage to the different iwi variations and deities within them, such as Tiki and Tāwhaki, and Tūmatauenga and Rongo-mā-Tāne. Feel free to be guided by the version of this pūrākau as is told in your rohe.

Tāne, the god of humanity and the forest, ascended through the heavens to the uppermost realm to obtain the three kete/baskets of knowledge from Io, the supreme being. Tāne knew the journey wouldn’t be easy – every step on his way up was riddled with challenges sent to him by his brother Whiro. Despite great difficulties, Tāne reached the pinnacle and brought back to earth the sacred knowledge of the three kete for Māori and mankind. The Poutama pattern, found in Māori weaving and plaiting, symbolises Tāne’s triumph. But for us te ira tangata/human beings, the Poutama lays a path to pursue and attain mātauranga/knowledge and waiora/positive
wellbeing. Its two sides tell us that nothing lives in isolation – as a bro you represent one side of the Poutama, the other side is the friend you’re supporting. Together you climb up the Poutama toward Mauri Ora, a space of positive mental health and wellbeing.

Look out for the signs

You noticed your bro doesn’t seem like his usual self lately. Maybe he just seems a little off, or maybe the warning signs are more obvious.
Your friend may be going through a hard time or even thinking about suicide if he is:

• Showing major changes from his usual behaviour.
• No longer doing stuff he once enjoyed.
• Shutting himself off from whānau and friends.
• Going through intense mood swings.
• Looking sad, angry, whakamā/ashamed or irritated.
• Turning to drugs or alcohol a lot more than usual.
• Not eating/sleeping, or eating/sleeping much more or less than usual.
• No longer looking after his health or appearance.
• Saying or posting dark or negative stuff about himself or the world.

You have your bro’s back and want to help him ride this out, but knowing what to say can be bloody hard!

Having a yarn about feelings or personal stuff may feel a bit weird at first, but if you can push through it, your tautoko can help the bro more than you think.

We’ll show you how to do that in four CHUR steps:



Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa.
Let us keep close together, not far apart.

  • Pick a time when you’re both relaxed. You can start the kōrero when you’re out fishing together, during a drive or a hīkoi/hike.
  • You can break the ice with something simple, like: “Everything good, bro?” or “How’s it going? Keen for a catch up?”
  • Your bro might not be ready to open up just yet. That’s okay, too. You can say you’re worried about him because of the things you’ve noticed. Tell him you’ve got his back and when he’s ready, you’ll be there.

Talk to each other, it doesn’t always have to be heavy.
It could be over food or an activity you both enjoy.
– Tāne Māori from Te Tai Tonga


He taonga te whakarongo.
The ability to listen is a gift.

When your bro starts talking about what he’s been going through, you should:

  • Keep calm and really listen to what he’s saying.
  • Try not to judge – even if you don’t totally get it or agree with
  • Know it’s okay to not have all the answers – you can look for those
    together later.
  • Not assume he wants your advice. Just acknowledge things are a
    bit of a mess right now and try to make him feel heard.
  • Not feel like you need to handle the situation on your own. Put your
    heads together and figure out who else should be in his support crew.

More often than not, the feeling of judgement is hard to navigate.
Show them you’re there purely as a friend without judging them.
– Tāne Māori from Tāmaki Makaurau

Step 3: UPLIFT

Whāia atu rā ngā tapuwae o Tāne.
Pursue the sacred footprints of Tāne.

When the time is right, find a space to kōrero with your bro about his passions, stuff he likes doing, what he’s good at, or what helped him cope in the past. It’s these little things that can make a massive difference.
Here are some ideas you can share with him:

  • Spend time in te taiao/nature.
  • Play sports or do a gym session.
  • Find a creative outlet (arts, music, dance...).
  • Hang out with the bros.
  • Lend a hand to someone.
  • Kōrero with other tāne who have been through something similar.
  • Reconnect with Māori culture, identity, and Te Reo.
  • Pray or recite karakia.
  • Learn about the maramataka/Māori lunar calendar and how it can
    support your wellbeing.
  • Prepare and share good kai/food.

Exercise is my go-to. Activities like surfing, biking and running.
Catching up with good friends is important, even if we don’t talk about
why I’m feeling down. The main thing is the positive feeling of just
knowing people care and want to spend time with me.
– Tāne Māori from Te Tai Tonga


Aupiki mai, auheke mai. Ko tāua tonu tāua.
I got you through the ups and downs.

  • You can work on some small goals or steps together, like going for a run or having a jam the next day.
  • Continue to check in on him and encourage him to keep going.
  • Offer to help connect him with the right support. This could be a kaumātua, kuia or professional who has the wisdom or experience in dealing with the issues he’s facing.

Things can be tricky if your bro keeps avoiding you or turning down your help. You can give him a bit more space, but don’t give up on him or lose contact. If the situation is looking serious, turn to someone you (or your bro) trust. It could be someone close to your bro – his whānau, a mutual friend, a teacher or a kaumātua. He may get mad at you at first, but that’s okay – what matters is that he gets the help he needs.

What I would say to a struggling friend is that help is there if you want it. You’re not being strong by keeping it on the inside.You’re not being weak if you reach out to a bro.
– Tāne Māori from Te Tai Hauāuru

If you’re worried your bro is thinking about suicide

If you believe your bro may be thinking about killing himself, don’t be afraid to ask him directly. The question will not put the thought in his head. When people are having suicidal thoughts, they’re often not thinking clearly. That’s why having an open kōrero can save their life.

If your friend says he has thought about suicide:



Try to stay calm.

Get angry or start judging him.

Take him seriously.

Wave him off or say stuff like “snap out of it” or “it’s not that bad”.

Let him know he’s made the right call to tell you.

Try to solve his problems for him.

Tell him there’s help out there, it makes a difference, and he’s not alone in this.

Promise to keep this a secret

If you’re worried your bro may take his life or is very distressed or agitated, take him to the nearest emergency department or call the local mental health assessment unit. Just stay with him until help arrives and keep calm. If your friend is in physical danger right now and is threatening to kill himself, call 111.

Finding the right words when you kōrero with your bro about suicide can be scary as. Here’s what he might say, and some ideas of what you could say in return.

If he says…

You could say…

Yes, I have been thinking about killing myself.

You’ve done the right thing telling me.

I know you’re doing it really tough right now, but you’re not alone here.

I’ve got your back. Let’s get you some help.

No, I’m fine.

I’m here if you ever need to kōrero.

I’m asking because I’ve noticed that…

You wouldn’t get it.


Tell me what’s been happening, bro?

Maybe I won’t totally get it, but you matter to me and I can listen.

There’s this number you can call if you need a chat or want some advice.

Who are you going to tell?

I want to make sure you’ll be okay. Let’s figure out a plan to keep you safe, eh?

Looking after yourself

Supporting someone through a rough patch can be hard mahi/work, so take good care of yourself, too. You can only help others when you’re in a good place yourself. Make sure you:

  • Get enough sleep and exercise; eat well.
  • Take time for yourself and the things you enjoy.
  • Set boundaries – you’re a friend, not a counsellor.
  • Involve other people in supporting your bro – you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything yourself.

CHUR BRO, let's get you feeling all good again

Tāne and Whiro are like two wolves of the mind. Tāne stands for knowledge and wellbeing; Whiro represents fear, anxiety and depression. These wolves are in constant battle with each other, but the one that comes out victorious is always the one we choose to feed.

Check out these four CHUR steps you can take to nourish your inner Tāne and get back to feeling all good again.

Step 1

Come to terms with the mamae/pain

Try to accept the mamae and let go of what you can't control. Know that you won't always feel like this and there are heaps of things you can do to get better.

Step 2

Have a yarn

Opening up to someone can take a lot of guts. When you're in a dark space, it's hard to see things clearly or from a different perspective. That's why having a kōrero with someone you love and trust can make a huge difference. You can also reach out to a kaumātua, kuia, tohunga, hauora/health provider, counsellor or helpline.

Step 3

Uplift your spirit

Fuel your passions and do something you enjoy, care about, or that you're good at. It could be hanging out with whānau or the bros, playing a sport, making music, volunteering... Whatever makes you feel sweet.

Step 4

Remember your bros

Lean on your bros, your whānau and your support crew. Give it time and trust the process.

Where to go for more help

If you’re thinking about suicide and things are at crisis point for you right now, go to your local hospital emergency department or call your local mental health crisis assessment team. If you’re in immediate danger, call 111.

For more info and support, you can reach out to your local Māori health provider; Whānau Ora provider; Kia Piki te Ora coordinator; marae, hapū or iwi service; GP; a school counsellor or a counselling service.

It’s important to find something that works for you. If you don’t get the help you need the first time, keep trying until you do.

Here’s a list of some of the free, 24/7 services that can help when you want to have a confidential chat:

  • 1737, need to talk? - Call or text 1737 for support from a trained
  • Lifeline - Call 0800 543 354 or text 4357 for counselling and support.
  • Youthline - Call 0800 376 633, text 234, email or go to website for an online chat.
  • Depression Helpline - Call 0800 111 757 or text 4202 to talk to a trained counsellor.
  • Samaritans - Call 0800 72 66 66 for someone who will listen.

Ngā Mihi

E rere ana ngā mihi aroha ki ngā whānau, ki ngā hapori, ki ngā tāngata katoa i kaha tautoko mai i tēnei kaupapa whakahirahira.
Mei kore ake ko koutou! Nā koutou tēnei taonga e aku rangatira!
We’d like to give a big mihi to everyone around the motu who shared their time, knowledge and space with us and helped to bring this taonga to life.


ISBN 978-1-98-855418-1 PRINT

ISBN 978-1-98-855419-8 DIGITAL

First published March 2022