Fear for health services

ROBIN RAYMOND AND PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 11:30 27/11/2012

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It remained unclear yesterday what will happen to the clients of Blenheim-based Maori health provider Te Rapuora o te Waiharakeke, which announced on Friday it will close at the end of the year.

Other Maori health providers in Marlborough say they have not yet been contacted about picking up the work done by Te Rapuora, which will close on December 31.

Maata Waka Ki Te Tau Ihu trust manager Gail McDonald said she was shocked by the news, which she had learned about from a statement issued by Te Rapuora and the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board on Friday.

Maata Waka had not spoken to the board about helping pick up its clients, but it regularly referred people to Te Rapuora's alcohol and drug services and its mental health services, which were important for the Marlborough community. "We really need to advocate that those services stay in Marlborough. I don't want us to lose those critical services."

Te Hauora O Ngati Rarua chairwoman Molly Luke said Te Rapuora was the only provider with contracts for Maori mental health services in Marlborough and its closure would leave a big gap.

Mrs Luke also learned about the closure from the press release and had not been approached by the health board about picking up any contracts.

"This is going to be a very big loss to Maori health in Marlborough," she said. "I would not like to see these contracts lost to Maori health providers."

There should be a kaupapa Maori (Maori protocol) in place for managing the bridging and ultimate takeover of these critical services, Mrs Luke said. Ideally, affected staff would be taken across into any new service for continuity.

Richmond New Zealand Southern divisional manager Martin Cole said the board had not contacted the organisation about taking on any Te Rapuora clients.

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- The Marlborough Express

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