Jamie Turama Tuahuriri Downes

Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Maniapoto

Jamie's Story

Losing his eyesight caused Jamie to also lose his life’s vision. Opening up to others let him find peace and then surgery restored his sight – allowing him to carry on his mission to help his people.

I was losing my sight - I was losing my vision

I was 21. I started to go blind; I had what they call keratoconus and there was nothing more that they could do. I started to just eat and that was my kind of safe place – I blew out to 174 kilos.


All sorts of things affect your mental health

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I had a vision for my people as Māori and literally when that’s robbed away from you, there is no reason to live

I just felt empty; it felt like there was nothing that could really take it away at the time. I didn’t want to talk about anything to anyone.


Depression or anxiety is different for everyone

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I had to first connect with the wairua, through karakia, waiata and also regular visits to the awa

The main thing that I had to do was kōrero; was talk and unload. I actually started to release all of these pressures. When I thought of my niece Amelia and uncle David, it made me karakia; this lightness and this ease came upon me, this peace came upon me.


There are things that can help you get through

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I wanted to pass on this feeling and we talked about how we could help in the community

We have got a Breakthrough Wellness Centre, where to us this place is a modern day marae; fitness, health, whakawhanaunātanga, kai, kōrero. We are inclusive because to us what’s good for Māori is good for everyone.


There are changes you can make to stay well

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We want to help people to get healthy because healthy bodies will create a healthy mind

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