New research affirms whānau-centred approach to primary health care

  • Hon Peeni Henare
Health Whānau Ora

New research released today confirms using whānau-centred approaches in primary health care services is key to achieving better health and wellbeing outcomes for Māori and Pacific whānau. This aligns with the recommendations of the Health and Disability System Review.

The independent report by Moana Research, Ihi Research and FEM Limited highlighted that commissioning for outcomes, rather than widgets has the potential to reduce health inequities, and recommends an adaptive, high-trust commissioning environment between the Crown, Māori and Pacific providers, whānau and hapori/communities, to enable a whānau-centred approach.

“This research demonstrates that a whānau-centred approach will lead to better health outcomes for Māori and Pacific Peoples if the Ministry of Health introduces a commissioning for outcomes model,” said Minister of Whānau Ora, Peeni Henare.

“We’re looking for outcomes. That’s what’s important to our people, and that is what is important to this Government.

“Māori and Pacific healthcare providers moved quickly to provide whānau-centred health services during the recent second wave of COVID-19, and we saw that this approach works. We need to grow that approach, using the data available,” said Henare.

The research showed that the Government is moving in the right direction by providing the largest ever funding boost for Whānau Ora, and launching Whakamaua, the Māori Health action plan, but there is more work to do to improve health equity for Māori and Pacific Peoples.

“We can and must do better for our people. The Government has faith in this approach, and work is underway to operationalise the recommendations in the report,” said Peeni Henare.

The results of the research project will inform the development of a business case by the Ministry of Health to further invest in whānau and community-led service provision. The results will also contribute to the State Sector’s ‘Wellbeing’ policy framework, and Case for Change to scale up a whānau-centred approach to primary health care for Māori and Pacific communities.

The aims of the research were to identify:

  • Key enablers and barriers to community-led whānau-centred primary health provision
  • Key components (critical success factors) required to give effect to this approach; cognisant of communities’ diverse characteristics, needs, and aspirations, and also agencies’ public accountability obligations
  • Opportunities for increased collaboration between Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to promote whānau-centred policy and increase investment in whānau-centred primary health service and care

The work was sequential and undertaken in two stages:

  • Stage One: Literature review and analysis, including facilitating a design process with key stakeholders in whānau-centred primary health care across Aotearoa to provide insights about the enablers and barriers and to develop a draft rubric, articulating key criteria which are required to give effect to the proposed approach.
  • Stage Two: Comparative study and design process with four Māori and two Pacific community-based whānau-centred primary health providers to identify commonalities and unique differences and further test and refine the rubric. An analysis of the ‘whole of project learnings’ into a final synthesis report.

The Literature Review and Case Studies analysed evidence for whānau-centred primary health provision, including the enablers, inhibitors, challenges, and critical success factors to effective delivery for Māori and Pacific communities.

345 articles, reports and other literature were screened as part of the review, while six case studies were carried out by the researchers between November 2019 and February 2020.

More information about the research can be found at :