Mahinaarangi Tuhi-Smith is a programme facilitator who provides mental health and drug rehabilitation opportunities within the community. She supports those who suffer from mental health issues and drug use, helping them to reconnect with themselves, their whānau, culture, and society.
Mahinaarangi is the organiser of the Mauri Tau Rongoā Poutiriao Programme, which helps whānau who are struggling with mental health, addiction, depression, and self-worth issues stemming from their personal and intergenerational experiences of trauma.
This programme also has a branch that focuses on supporting wahine in their recovery from trauma, teaching Te ao Māori-based skills for building a healthy sense of identity and belonging as wahine Māori within society. Participants learn about purakau storytelling, karakia, and traditional Māori medicine practices. They also share knowledge on making pounamu earrings and contemporary korowai to help them engage with and connect to traditional kaupapa.
Mahinaarangi has also organised a community project to reduce suicides among gang members using the ancient Māori tradition of massage. Gang members and whānau have been learning the traditional practices of mirimiri and romiromi massage to help deal with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
She is also the co-director of Kahukura, the Mongrel Mob-run drug rehab programme in Central Hawke’s Bay. Kahukura focuses on getting members off meth and breaking the generational cycle of meth use. According to course directors, about 80% of those who have completed Kahukura remain clean after leaving the eight-week marae-based course. The programme also focuses on building relationships with family and removing violence.
In 2022, Mahinaarangi and Kahukura Tumu, the director, won an Award Winner at Cutting Edge 2022, held by the Addiction Practitioners Association Aotearoa New Zealand for the Kahukura programme. Mahinaarangi was also a recipient of the Dapaanz Excellence in Peer Support Award.