Mental illness is a significant issue for Maori. Evidence suggests that the prevalence of mental health and addiction amongst Maori is not improving, evident by the prevalence (Baxter 2008) and the increase in mental health service use (Ministry of Health, 2011). This study aims to use a qualitative research methodology, Maori-centred grounded theory, to understand the experiences of Maori mental health service users and their whanau within social, cultural and political frameworks, to determine how meanings may be formed in a participant-responsive context (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Flick, 2009). The goal is to create a conceptual model that will assist Maori to make sense of their experience(s) and to provide guidance to health providers for how to enable positive health outcomes for mental health service users. This study will also enable me to strengthen my academic and research capability in the area of Maori mental health research.