Northland DHB’s Jason Haitana wins prestigious scholarship to attend international conference in Italy | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Northland DHB’s Jason Haitana wins prestigious scholarship to attend international conference in Italy

Consumer and Family Leader for Northland DHB’s Mental Health and Addiction Services Jason Haitana has won the prestigious David B. Feinsilver Award for 2022. 

The award grants a scholarship to fund travel expenses to the annual ISPS (International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis). This year the conference is in Perugia, Italy from 31 August to 4 September.

Jason won the award based on submitting the best research or clinical paper on psychotherapeutic treatment. The paper was based on Jason’s research into “Te Reo Orooro – An indigenous Māori perspective on hearing voices”, which he has been working on for some years.

Jason explains that “te reo orooro” means ‘the language of vibration and energy’.   

“This means understanding that fundamentally we connect to nature through these things. Te reo orooro is a means where we understand the many positive forces and voices in nature and protection against those that are negative. It also allows us a place of refuge and safety in understanding.   Most of all, it is about accepting identity. 

“Te reo orooro as such is a language that we use to understand our very connections and accept the dissonance in our lives. This language is based on the use of ritual and ceremony, on the use of incantations and prayers passed down through the generations.   It incorporates an understanding of the environment and how it is used in this context. Lastly, te reo orooro is ancient. Its application though is very new, along with a growing set of knowledge still to be discovered.   This is both the question and the answer.”

“My research looks at Māori healing practises used to connect to nature, to ancestry, and to the various forces of the elements,” says Jason. “It is grounded in this knowledge system and the activist edge of the First Nations struggle. It explains things through an understanding of our interactions with nature, and with the spiritual that connects us all.

“Many indigenous cultures experience the light and the dark. Our world has both, just like the sun rising every day. Cultures often had initiations where people are faced with significant spiritual challenges and hardships. Understanding the ritual, the myths and legends as a language for understanding also helps towards healing.”

The David B. Feinsilver Award is the latest accolade for Jason, who was recently one of three finalists(external link) in the national PWC New Zealand Lived Experience Leadership Award at the 2021 HeadFit Awards. This award category recognises an individual with lived experience of neurodiversity, mental illness, or mental distress, who has demonstrated leadership by role modelling, reducing stigma, and driving positive mental health conversations. 

As a younger person, Jason had personal experience of anxiety and depression and recalls having suicidal thoughts, hearing voices, and seeing things. He has been able to transform his life since that time and believes that exploring his personal identity and whakapapa was instrumental in that process.

Jason says that he hopes his successes will provide hope and inspiration for others with lived experience working in the mental health sector and for all his colleagues at Northland DHB. “I am them, and they are me. This award is for us all.”




For further information, please contact:

Jacquie Walters, Senior Communications Advisor

Phone 021 0730454 


Jason Haitana

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