OPINION: Maori health care took a significant step forward yesterday as provider Tui Ora Ltd celebrated bringing together a raft of health services under its wing.
Tui Ora's motto is Let Unity Prevail. A sizeable gathering at Waitara's Owae Marae heard speakers acknowledge the road to integrating Maori health services and business support through contracts with the Taranaki District Health Board had been a rocky one and there was still work to be done.
Changes in how those Maori-based community contracts worth $7.6 million are managed have been in the wings for about 18 months. The situations vacant columns of Saturday's Daily News featured adverts for nine positions.
Chief executive Hayden Wano says the many health services continue to be delivered across the whole of Taranaki "working with the people we know and in the same communities".
He says the integration will create greater efficiencies that will translate into more health services being made available to communities and the chances support the further development and delivery of a whanau ora approach to care. The changes support the whanau ora approach to care, where family is placed at the centre of health and services from different organisations and are delivered in a coordinated fashion.
Tui Ora chairman Kura Denness yesterday acknowledged the changes had caused pain. "It was always going to be tough, but it has been marred by the incompetence surrounding the process. I call it incompetence, rather than racism, because people get in a flap when you start talking race and soon we forget what it was we were trying to do," she said.
She also acknowledged the casualties, the "grief and hurt and loss" from the closure of organisations which had worked to improve Maori health and whose teams now found themselves forming the provider arm of Tui Ora.
She also urged colleagues in the health industry not to "throw away the years that others have fought to bring us good healthcare and a different way of life".
Issues were evident two weeks ago when community support services organisation Mahia Mai a Whai Tara announced it was closing because it could not afford to continue.
Yesterday's launch heard platitudes for Tui Ora from New Plymouth mayor Harry Duynhoven and New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young. The pioneering work of Tui Ora was celebrated at the same venue as another pioneer in health was remembered two days earlier.
It is 82 years since the death of Sir Maui Pomare, the Urenui doctor who went on to become a Minister of Health revered for his work in improving Maori health and living conditions.
The parallel between the work of Sir Maui, whose statue overlooks the marae, and Tui Ora was not missed during yesterday's speeches. If the organisation which wants to let unity prevail can match anything approaching the achievements of Sir Maui, it will be deemed a success, even by those who were less than enthusiastic to be part of it.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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