Reshuffle for Maori health

Marlborough-based health provider Te Rapuora o te Waiharakeke has up to 228 clients eligible to transfer to new Maori health providers in the new year.

Due to financial problems, Te Rapuora will close on December 31 and new providers will pick up its clients on January 7.

Last month, Te Rapuora manager Aroha Metcalf said the organisation cared for 505 individual and whanau clients and employed 22 staff in Marlborough. In Nelson, the organisation had 192 clients and nine staff.

A Nelson Marlborough District Health Board spokeswoman said the Maataa Waka Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust could pick up 52 whanau ora (personal health) and up to 78 kaumatua (elder) Te Rapuora clients, with support from Te Hauora o Ngati Rarua. Both organisations were Blenheim-based.

Maataa Waka would recruit the equivalent of two fulltime staff to provide whanau ora services, she said. The Te Rapuora website lists these as including smoking cessation, asthma, diabetes, nutrition and physical activity, men's issues, sexual health, advocacy and support.

Maori health director Harold Wereta said the people with the greatest need would receive the services and kaumatua could be confident there would be little disruption.

Not all kaumatua registered with Te Rapuora were actively involved, he said.

Nelson-based health provider Te Kahui Hauora O Ngati Koata would pick up kaupapa Maori mental health clients who chose to transfer from Te Rapuora, supported by Te Hauora o te Awhina in Motueka, Mr Wereta said. The organisation would open new offices in Blenheim on January 7.

Seventy-two tangata whaiora (mental health) clients in Marlborough plus 26 in Nelson were eligible to transfer, Mr Wereta said. Providers would offer community-based alcohol and drug services and also community support for adults and young people.

Maori mental health staff numbers had been cut from 14 to six as part of the Te Rapuora closure, Mr Wereta said.

"The number of positions is a reflection of the number of clients eligible to be transferred."

The board had sent letters to each client with details of their new health provider.

At a Marlborough Primary Health Organisation meeting in Blenheim last week, deputy chairman and Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman said Te Rapuora had a surprising number of mental health clients.

Chairman Joe Puketapu said Te Rapuora drug and alcohol clients were almost twice the contracted number, for example, and numbers would be reviewed.

The Marlborough Express