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Wonderful honour for BOPDHB Psychiatrist Mark Lawrence

29 June 2021

BOPDHB Psychiatrist Dr Mark Lawrence was recently elected as a Director of the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) ...

Wonderful honour for BOPDHB Psychiatrist Mark Lawrence

At the same conference in Hobart, Australia, Mark received the Pirika Taonga for his contribution in Māori mental health and addiction in Aotearoa New Zealand, and for his time serving as Chair of the New Zealand section Tu Te Akaaka Roa of the RANZCP.

Being the first Māori to be elected as a Director is something Mark is incredibly proud of. "I am looking forward to bringing a strong New Zealand voice to the College, as well as a strong Māori voice," he said.

Mark was the first recipient of the Pirika Taonga, which he describes as a "wonderful honour". The taonga is in memory of Poiti Arama-karaka Pirika (Arama) who was the RANZCP' Kaumātua from 2008 to 2017. The Pirika Taonga is awarded by nomination. It recognises noteworthy contributions (which may include service provision, leadership, research) in Māori mental health and addictions in Aotearoa.

Receiving this award was made all the more special for Mark because he worked closely with Poiti Arama. "I had a bit of a tear in my eye because I knew Arama well and we had a close relationship. He was a beautiful man."

Mark officially receives the taonga, a pounamu, in Queenstown in September.