Saturday, December 9, 2023

Art raising money and awareness

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A painting created in support of farmers’ mental health will raise funds for the Rural Support Trust and reduce the stigma of depression.
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Taranaki artist Paul Rangiwahia wrote and produced Top Six Inches in a collaboration with Taranaki Rural Support Trust chairman and national council member Mike Green.

Green says art is a great way to break down the stigma of mental health while helping people talk about what they are experiencing and feeling.

“Two things which make depression much more likely are having long-term sources of stress and an insecure future,” he says.

“When both of these factors are put together the chances of depression increase dramatically.

“At the moment farmers and those in the rural sector face an uncertain future as major changes in the industry are on the horizon. Until a healthy middle ground is found between idealism and realism, plenty of challenges will continue.”

Top Six Inches contains 38 messages Rangiwahia hopes will not only serve as valuable and practical advice but will also encourage people to talk about how they feel.

It took him about three months to write the messages.

He tries to communicate as much as possible with as few words as he can, so each is mulled over at length.

Top Six Inches was chosen as the title because of the correlation between the top six inches of the land and peoples’ heads.

“If both are in balance, have the right inputs and are nurtured then the outputs from both are that much better,” he says.

Rangiwahia grew up in Hawera and says he has always felt connected to rural communities.

His latest initiative aims to raise money for the trust while also getting messages across that are pertinent to the rural sector.

The trust aims to sell 2000 prints over the next two years, which will raise $250,000 to help provide important advice and services to the rural sector.

Green says New Zealanders are notoriously poor communicators when it comes to matters of emotional health.

“The aim is to get conversations going as this is our biggest challenge – getting people to talk. We also want to raise the importance of belonging to a community and the importance of connection.

“The quicker we can normalise the fact that we all have moments of emotional stress the quicker we can progress to a healthier way of living. And that’s good for everyone.”

Prints are $300 each from Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254.

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