Opening of Te Whai Oranga O Te Iwi Health Centre

  • Parekura Horomia
Maori Affairs

Greetings to Trevor Mallard, Winnie Laban, Tina Olsen-Ratana, from Kokiri Marae, Suafole Gush, the Manager of Hutt Union Health, Peter Glensor, the National Co-ordinator of Healthcare Aotearoa and other dignitaries.

Thank you for the invitation to open this new health clinic Whai Oranga o te Iwi. There is a strong Ngati Porou presence at Seaview and Wainuiomata so I have, over many years, watched the great work that has been done by the people here. It does not surprise me at all that Tina and her crew have formed alliances to ensure better services for the people of this area.

I was told that Whai Oranga o Te Iwi Health emerged out of the relationship formed between Kokiri Marae Seaview and the Hutt Union & Community Health Service. Both Kokiri Marae and the Hutt Union were already providing primary health care and social support services to many whanau members living in Wainuiomata.

Whanau members were recently, and randomly, asked what they wanted from a health service. The survey revealed that they wanted a health service that is:
·affordable quality health care (especially for low income earners).
·accessible health care.
·culturally appropriate – especially for Maori and Pacific peoples.

Whai Oranga is a member of Healthcare Aotearoa. Whai Oranga got seeding funding from Healthcare Aotearoa’s “New Centres” Fund to set up and establish a new service in Wainuiomata. At the same time, the Hutt Union & Community Health Service was approached by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry had been aware of the shortage of doctors in Wainuiomata, in particular women GPs, and they asked Hutt Union to consider setting up a similar service in Wainuiomata.

So the two groups decided to pool their resources. They leased premises to set up a community based primary health service. Incidentally, the premises were previously occupied by a doctor and a chemist, who moved away.

I am very pleased to see a very strong community influence on the governance body of Te Whai Oranga o te Iwi Health. The board, known as the Runanga Kaitiaki comprises 12 members representing Kokiri Seaview, Hutt Union & Community Health Service, Wainuiomata Marae, kaumätua, rangatahi, staff and local members of Wainuiomata.

The health center is currently staffed part-time by a Manager, Administrator and Nurse. It offers a nurse service and the support of Maori health educators from Kokiri marae, who have knowledge in asthma, parent support and smoking cessation (aukati kaipaipa). New doctors, Salina Iupati and Matire Harwood, will start on 10 and 11th December respectively.

I am sure the community will support this primary health care center, which is unique to Wainuiomata for a number of reasons.

1.Kaupapa Maori service delivery is to the whole community (especially low income earners and beneficiaries)
2.All staff are salaried
3.They are committed to developing a Treaty based governance and management structure
4.It is a not-for-profit organisation
5.It is community owned and community controlled, and
6.There is a real commitment to community development – encouraging strong community participation.