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New iwi and telehealth partnership a major milestone for Māori

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A landmark partnership between iwi and Māori health providers Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Whakarongorau Aotearoa // New Zealand Telehealth Services marks the next stage of designing and delivering equitable health outcomes for priority communities.

The joint venture, called Taki-o-Autahi, will be signed by the chiefs of each organisation at a ceremony held at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds at 9.30am on Friday 12 August. Parliamentary representatives, regional and sector leaders and kaimahi from each organisation will be in attendance.

Taki-o-Autahi builds on the success of the relationships established by the four organisations over 2021 which has seen the creation of ˜300 jobs, improved health outcomes for Māori and an injection of more than $15 Million into underserved regional economies.

Importantly, for the 12 months ending 31 July 2022, the connection with Māori through dedicated service lines saw kaimahi Māori from the four organisations answer ˜46,000 contacts and make ˜274,000 outbound calls to tangata whaiora who had questions or vaccine hesitancy, which resulted in vaccine bookings 53% of the time.

The inauguration of the joint venture, using the Limited Partner Act, acknowledges the full and equal partnership between the four organisations in their common vision of improving health outcomes for priority populations.

Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi CEO Tia Ashby says her organisation’s decision to formalise the partnership came down to the success shown to date in this by Māori for Māori approach, delivered with a health partner that is fully committed to addressing equity issues through the provision of equitable telehealth services.

“Our partnership can be described through the whakatauki He ao ka tui, he ao ka whatu, ka renarena A world is weaved, a world is sowed, and both are fastened as one.

“Tui and whatu mean 'to weave/sew' and ao translates to 'world'. Renarena is to tighten or fasten a piece of thread. In essence, this whakatauki speaks about the partnership between the iwi-affiliate and Māori providers and Whakarongorau that were formed in a time of need and required high trust to be successful. The willingness of all parties to come together and collaborate with one goal in mind, supporting the hauora of Māori, communities and Aotearoa as a whole speaks to its strength.

“A pandemic sewed this partnership together but it has shown many social, health and material benefits. This is a tremendous opportunity and the economic outcomes we need for underserved communities like Kaikohe,” says Ms Ashby.

Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi has 115 kaimahi and is now one of the biggest employers in Kaikohe, with 90% of its new recruits never having been in employment before.

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga CEO Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga says the decision to formalise the partnership was made due to the trust and confidence built between all four entities who share common goals and values.

“Taki-o-Autahi shares our organisational values of kaitiakitanga, whakamana, kotahitanga and whanaungatanga. These underpin the mahi we have been doing with our people for the last 35 years. 

“Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga already has a successful suite of social and health services, but we see the value in coming together with likeminded organisations – each with different skills and knowledge to share – enabling us to extend our mahi.

“We all have the same goal of improving health outcomes for tangata whaiora. So far, the work has created 67 jobs in our organisation. This has had an exponential impact on the financial, spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing for the individuals employed, and their whānau.

“I’ve seen kaimahi grow in self-belief. They’re able to take their increased hauora knowledge back to their whānau. Some of our kaimahi report that they are now saving for their first home, and others have elected to enrol in further education as a result of their work.

“At a macro level, the future social and economic benefits of the partnership can extend from kaimahi, iwi and the partnership, to benefit social health determinants for Aotearoa,” says Ms Tahuri-Whaipakanga.

 “‘He manu korokī, he manu whakaokorau’ is a statement that demonstrates we are here listening to the needs of our people, including those we are employing,” says Te Arawa Lakes Trust CEO Karen Vercoe MNZM. E whakaaturia ana e He manu korokī, he manu whakaokorau” i te kōrero nui kei te whakarongo kau mātou i ngā hiahia o a mātou uri, ka mutu, te hunga mahi nei,” te kōrero a Vercoe.

Ms Vercoe continues that flexible hours and being able to work from home are a good fit for her staff. Hei tā te Tumu Whakarae o Te Arawa Rotomoana, tā Karen Vercoe MNZM, nā te pīngore o ngā haora mahi me te mahi mai i te kāinga tētahi mea whakaratarata i ōna uri.

“We set up the Waea Mai Call Centre in the midst of a lockdown. We employed a team of 80 kaimahi that is 100% Māori. This is a by Māori for Māori initiative, and it’s a success. I whakatūria a Waea Mai i waenga tonu i tētahi o ngā rāhui-nui. I hoatu mahi ki tētahi 80 hungamahi, ā, he Māori te katoa. I konei te toa nui, nātemea anō, nā te Māori, mā te Māori tēnei kaupapa.

“We pay the advisors at least a living wage, and this means they can look ahead and start to plan for the future. The flexible work means kaimahi can fit the mahi around their tamariki, mokopuna and whānau commitments. Ka utua rawatia ngā pou-ārahi ki te utu ora, nā konā te whakarite mai mō ngā rā kei tua. Kei ngā haora pīngore te ahunga kia whai waahi atu ngā hungamahi kia tutuki ai ā rātou kaupapa mō te whānau me ngā tamariki mokopuna.

“Being able to have a friendly person on the other end of the phone to support our people and being able to work for an organisation that values their contribution is both beneficial for the advisor and for the person calling. The improvement in the hauora of our kaimahi and the effect it has on whānau and the wider community cannot be underestimated. He hua nui ki ngā hunga e rua te mahi kōrerorero ki tētahi reo manaaki, arā anō te tautoko tētahi ki tētahi, me te mahi mā tētahi ratonga e rārata ana ki tēnei mahi, meinga rā, ki te pou-ārahi me te tangata e waea ana. Nā te pikinga o te hauora ki o mātou hungamahi, te pānga nui ki ngā whānau me te hapori – me kaua kē e kaupare noa.

“We’re pleased to be part of Taki-o-Autahi, an exemplary equity-based partnership to serve our people and develop our staff,” says Ms Vercoe. E tū whakahī nei i te piringa ki a Taki o Autahi, ka mutu, te tauira nui o te mahi tahi hei oranga tātou me te whanake mai o ngā hungamahi,” te kōrero a Vercoe.

Whakarongoaru Aotearoa // New Zealand Telehealth Services CEO Andrew Slater says Taki-o-Autahi is of fundamental importance to the organisation’s remit e whakawhiwhi ana ki te katoa I Aoteararoa te huarahi kia ora to give everyone in Aotearoa the opportunity for wellness.

“We have been on a journey with Te Hau Ora O Ngāpuhi, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and Te Arawa Lakes Trust to reach some of Aotearoa’s most underserved communities. I can only describe this work as transformative.

“It has shown that when our respective skills and resources are truly, equitably and fairly shared, the health and wellbeing of individuals and whole communities benefit.

“To have the trust of these three iwi and Māori-led organisations is a privilege and we will continue to strive to earn it. 

“I also acknowledge the courage of our funders, who have worked with us and supported us in creating this response and enabling us to work alongside iwi and Maori-led providers to deliver this mahi.

“I asked three of our kaimahi Māori what this mahi means to them. They said: ‘Whakarongorau allows or embraces iwi Māori as the paramount core of hauora and understands Māori work better with and alongside Māori; ‘It has created new opportunities and skills opening for others in the whānau’; ‘Whakarongorau effectively developing Māori for Māori with the whakatau leading each whare, living under Te Tiriti o Waitangi ka pai.’

“We are pleased to formalise the relationship with this Taki-o-Autahi and look forward to working alongside our partners as we continue to build work capability and an environment that normalises positive hauora, education and career growth for tangata whaiora throughout Aotearoa.

“There is a real opportunity here to scale up; to work pokohiwi ki pokohiwi, supporting the capability of other organisations to deliver broader health outcomes and social benefits. We hope that over time more iwi will consider joining this venture,” says Mr Slater.

New iwi and telehealth partnership a major milestone for Māori

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