Keri Opai has won a special Australasian award for a te reo glossary for the mental health, addictions and disability sectors. The award was presented by former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard at last week’s 2018 Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand, held in Adelaide.

The WALSH (West  Auckland  Living  Skills  Home) Trust was also a winner, taking out the Psychosocial and/or Support award for its Community-based Maternal Mental Health Respite and Support Services. There were also two New Zealand winners in the related-media awards for Vice and Attitude Pictures.

Opai’s special award was in recognition of his “contribution to excellence, innovation and best practice in mental health services”, for creating the glossary Te Reo Hāpai – The Language of Enrichment for mental health workforce agency Te Pou.

The 200-word-plus glossary of te reo words, terms  and whakataukī (proverbs) was released last year by Te Pou and got international coverage including being picked up by the BBC.

Opai, the pae ārahi (interpreter and support strategic lead)  for Te Pou, spent about two years consulting with mental health, addiction and disability service consumers as well as people working in sector and kaupapa organisations. The resulting glossary includes including creating a new word in te reo Māori for autism takiwātanga  (his or her own time and space) and for disabled whaikaha (to have strength, to have ability, otherly abled, enabled).

Te Pou chief executive Robyn Sharer thanked Te Taura Whiri i te Reo (The Māori Language Commission and the members of Te Pou’s advisory panel Professor Sir Mason Durie, Whaene Moe Milne, Nigel Ngahiwi and Hingatū Thompson for supporting it with the production of Te Reo Hāpai.

The Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand are presented every year by TheMHS Learning Network to recognise and encourage best practice, excellence and innovation in mental health service delivery. The Awards have been made annually since 1992 during TheMHS Conference which is the largest mental health and addiction services conference in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

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