New Māori Engagement Advisor for SociaLink

April 2024

SociaLink, the umbrella organisation for Western Bay of Plenty social agencies and charities, has appointed a new Māori Engagement Advisor.
Irene Walker 191x300 - New Māori Engagement Advisor for SociaLink
Irene Walker (Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pukenga, Waitaha, Ngāti Rehua ki Ngāti Wai), whakapapas to the iwi within the Western Bay of Plenty and northern iwi. She comes from a large family with eight siblings.

She has a 40-year background in the health field working nationally, regionally and local levels, and says the local level has been her most challenging.O ver the past 10 years she has been working regionally in Māori suicide prevention with Kia Piki te Ora, a Bay of Plenty contract under Te Ao Hou Trust, Ōpōtiki.

She says during lockdown there were no Māori suicides within the WBOP region and very low nationally, as people were connected to each other, but the figures soon returned to pre-lockdown levels when restrictions were over.

“What can we learn from that? We need new and innovative ways to create a new path.”

While she is already well known in the western Bay, Irene says she is looking forward to creating connections through SociaLink and working with organisations.