Health groups take on staff to fill gap

00:21, Dec 13 2012

Two of the Maori health organisations taking over contracts from Te Rapuora in Blenheim next year have advertised three fulltime jobs to help deliver services.

The positions are for a fixed term of six months starting on January 7.

The jobs are the result of a collaboration between the two Maori health providers taking over Te Rapuora's personal health services. They are Maata Waka Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust and Te Hauora O Ngati Rarua.

Maata Waka general manager Gail MacDonald said they had invited Te Rapuora staff to apply for the roles. Not all staff would be offered jobs because the organisations were not taking over all of Te Rapuora's personal health contracts, she said.

"The only fair way was for staff to apply and go through the interview process."

Te Rapuora o te Waiharakeke announced last month it will close on December 31 because of financial problems. It employs 22 staff in Blenheim and nine in Nelson.


Four of those 22 in Blenheim work in the area of personal health services.

Ms MacDonald said it was essential for the new providers to have extra staff in place by the start of January.

"We are working through the transition plan," she said. "One of the key things is to have staff ready to continue the services and minimise disruption for clients."

Te Rapuora manager Aroha Metcalf said her staff were available to take up the new positions.

"There is no guarantee any member of staff [at Te Rapuora] will get these jobs. It's stressful but that's the reality."

Nelson-based Te Kahui Hauora O Ngati Koata and Te Hauora O Te Awhina, from Motueka, were taking over Maori mental health services across the top of the south, Miss Metcalf said.

The two health providers had an agreement to deliver one mental health service in Blenheim, Nelson and Motueka. That was part of a proposed change to services presented to the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board in September, which included establishing one mental health provider for Maori by next July.

Te Rapuora had been part of that process, Miss Metcalf said. It employed 14 staff to work with Maori mental health patients.

"What's happening now is that Te Rapuora is out, but the other two will carry the service across the top of the south."

They were still negotiating with the board over what contracts they were taking over and to what extent, Miss Metcalf said.

"The services will remain but there will be some adjustments. We will know next week who has a job."

Ngati Koata director James Reneti said there was no guarantee Te Rapuora staff would be employed to continue providing the services. He said he would talk to his team at Ngati Koata and staff at Te Rapuora before making an announcement in a few days.

Health board Maori health director Harold Wereta said Ngati Koata was looking to establish a health centre in Blenheim.

Te Rapuora's existing building at the corner of Grove Rd and Budge St was a possible location, he said.

"What we were looking for was expertise in delivering Maori mental health services and the ability to do that in two sites similar to Te Rapuora," he said. "But this is only interim until the Maori health providers evolve into a different structure next year."

The board could not give any assurances that Te Rapuora staff members would be employed by the new health providers, but it was working to make job opportunities available to them, Mr Wereta said.

The Marlborough Express