Key information and criteria

Is your project eligible for a grant? Find the criteria and key information here.
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Nōku te Ao is a public awareness programme that aims to increase social inclusion and end discrimination towards people with experience of mental distress. One in five New Zealanders experience mental illness or addiction each year (1), Some population groups are more at risk than others: almost one in three Māori and one in four Pacific peoples (2). People who live with mental illness or distress are members of our whānau, they are our colleagues, loved ones and friends, and they bring invaluable contributions to our workplaces, homes, and communities every day.

However, they are also very likely to experience prejudice and discrimination and we want to change that. To do this effectively, we must look at who is most likely to experience mental illness and distress and therefore who is most likely to experience prejudice and discrimination, so while our programme is for all New Zealanders, it specifically seeks to increase social inclusion for Māori and Pasifika as priority audiences.

What are the Puna Pūtea or Social Action Grants?  

The Puna Pūtea or Social Action Grants are grants of between $10,000 and up to $40,000 funded by the Nōku te Ao programme and administered by the Mental Health Foundation. Pūtea or money is awarded to projects that aim to challenge negative stereotypes, unfair judgements, and discrimination towards those of us who live with mental distress or illness.  

What kinds of grants are available?

There are two types of grants available. Everyone – individuals and groups – can apply for both types:

  1. Grants of up to $40,000:  
    Preference for these grants will be given to non-corporate groups, community and lived experience groups, committees, marae, and whānau, hāpu and iwi rōpū/groups. Applicants for these grants must be open to co-designing their project with the Mental Health Foundation.
  2. Grants of between $10,000 - $20,000:
    These grants are recommended for individuals and organisations.  

Who are the grants for? 

Our Puna Pūtea are available to community, organisations, hapū, iwi and groups or individuals wanting to challenge mental distress discrimination and create real change. We want to hear about the changes you’d like see happen – and help make your vision to end mental distress discrimination a reality!

What kinds of mental distress discrimination could my project challenge?

Mental distress discrimination occurs in all sorts of places – in our workplaces, in societal structures like our health system, in our communities, iwi and hapū, and even in our own homes. For example, according to a 2022 report by the Office of the Ombudsman, Māori mental health patients are disproportionately secluded in mental health facilities.

Where does mental distress discrimination occur?

See below for some settings that your project could focus on:

Mental Health Foundation

What do we fund? 

The kind of projects we’re looking to fund are diverse. We want to hear your ideas about how to end mental distress discrimination and make your moemoeā/ vision come alive! 

We prioritise applications that: 

  • Focus on people most impacted by discrimination, for example, Māori and Pacific peoples, and those of us who experience mental distress or illness. 
  • Are lived experience led. 
  • Are committed to achieving equity.  
  • Embed the Nōku te Ao kaupapa Māori principles.  
  • Hold space for and utilise Pacific approaches.  
  • Can bring about sustained improvement in attitudes, behaviours or structures. 

Grants Criteria

To be successful in your application, you’ll need to

  1.  Clearly describe how your grants project will end unfair judgements and discrimination towards people who experience mental distress. What sorts of unfair judgements and discrimination will your project challenge, and how? How will your project uphold the rights of people with mental distress in your whānau, community, workplace, or iwi? 
  2. Clearly describe how your project will help to drive equal outcomes for your community, or for our priority groups - people with severe mental distress who may also be Māori and/or Pasifika.
  3.  Show how your project aligns with our kaupapa Māori principles. How will your project incorporate best practice or tikanga in a way that supports people with mental distress? How will your specific mātauranga or knowledge make your grants project fly? Choose one or more of the Nōku te Ao kaupapa Māori principles and talk to them in your application.  
  4.  Show how you will reach people who haven’t experienced mental distress with the stories and views of people who have. This practice, which is called the Power of Contact, is a proven way to help end mental distress discrimination and increase understanding of another person’s experiences. To be effective, the project’s leader or leaders need to create a situation where people feel a sense of equality with one another; there is an opportunity for whanaungatanga/to get to know each other and actively co-operate; information that challenges negative stereotypes about people with mental distress is provided; and all participants have a mutual goal they can pursue together by taking tangible actions.
  5. Have clear goals and objectives, and a realistic and detailed budget. What outcomes do you want your grants project to achieve, and why? Is this possible within your budget and the grant amount you have applied for, and if not, how have you saved on costs? Attach quotes if possible. 
  6. Demonstrate creativity and innovation. Have you noticed anyone doing something similar? If so, what could you do better? What does your grants project offer that others don’t?  
  7. Use positive, hopeful, and safe language around mental distress. See our media guidelines for tips on using language that is mana-enhancing, respectful, and puts the person first.
  8.  Consider any barriers that may impact your project, and how you would overcome them? (For example, Covid-19). 
  9. Commit to keep in regular contact with the Mental Health Foundation regarding your project and commit to utilising best practice guidelines that we advise you on. 

What we can’t fund 

Our exclusions are set by our funders and are not able to be changed.  

We can’t fund:  

  • Projects that focus on suicide. While suicide can be mentioned as part of many people’s mental distress journeys, your grant application cannot focus on it and must focus on ending mental distress discrimination. 
  • Applications that simply raise awareness of mental distress – your project must specifically aim to end discrimination against people with mental distress or illness. 
  • Mental health treatments and clinical services. 
  • Political organisations, education institutions/providers, public sector or local government bodies, or entities already funded by Nōku te Ao. 
  • Projects that have already happened, or don’t have a clear plan of action. 
  • Projects not carried out in Aotearoa New Zealand. 
  • Late or incomplete applications. 
  • Study or service delivery costs. 
  • Capital items, like computers, tablets, or cars. 
  • To ensure impartiality, Nōku te Ao does not fund entities already funded by Nōku te Ao, nor does it fund for-profit entities.    
  • Previous Nōku te Ao grantees. 
  • Wages and salary.

Key dates

  • Applications open: Friday, 22nd September 2023 
  • Closing date for applications: Tuesday, 31st October 2023 at 11:59pm 
  • Applicants notified of the outcome: By February 2024 
  • Grant contracts signed by successful applicants: By February 2024 
  • The commencement date for projects: From March 2024 
  • End date for projects: As agreed with the Mental Health Foundation
  • Final evaluation/case study due: As agreed with the Mental Health Foundation 

Need more information?

Join the Social Action Grants team to go through the criteria for our `Puna Pūtea and learn some tips and tricks on how to approach the application. Choose a date which you are available and a zoom link will be sent out to you.