Precious health money goes to Taranaki Maori to work out what whanau ora means

Alf is bemused by a report of a pioneering Maori health group which “is taking another step into uncharted territory”.

And whose money is being spent on this pioneering venture?

Ours. They will be given some of the stuff the IRD takes out of all our incomes.

This Tui Ora outfit is the governing body for 13 Taranaki Maori-focused health groups.

According to Stuff, it launched a three-year project to design and develop a whanau ora-driven health service yesterday.

Tui Ora was among 31 Maori health, disability and social service providers granted contracts through Te Ao Auahatanga Hauora Maori, the Maori Health Innovation Fund, and will share in $20 million of Government funding.

So how will this money be spent?

Not on health services, in the first instance, but on consultations.

This means bloody hui, in Alf’s experience of these things. Lots of hui.

Addressing an audience of about 120 at Waitara’s Owae Marae, project manager Ali Hamlin said the project’s first year would be about consultation with Maori and their care providers.

“That is the most vital part,” she said.

“To create our design, we must be alongside all involved in care delivery.”

Alf became more bothered when he read the next para:

Tui Ora chief executive Hayden Wano agreed, saying the project team’s first task would be to define what whanau ora meant to Taranaki Maori as a whole.

“The first thing we need to do is arrive at what we mean by whanau ora,” he said.

“Then we can develop our plans based on that.”

Hmm. So on the one hand the Government has committed itself to a Maori Party programme called whanau ora.

On the other, the Maori who are supposed to benefit from this programme – or some of them – must consult with each other and with various service providers to determine what it means.

And after a year of consultations – what then?

The second and third years would be spent analysing and responding to the information gathered and developing the plan.

“Our focus is on improving health outcomes for all Taranaki Maori,” Mr Wano said.

In other words, public money is being poured into Taranaki for Maori to work out over three years what they should do to improve Maori health.

It doesn’t seem to have dawned on anyone that maybe they could visit a doctor or a hospital, or get good health advice from myriad of other sources, the same way the rest of us do.

Tui Ora – by the way – was established in 1998 and was one of the first Maori health groups to develop the holistic primary health care model.

Its driving aim is to focus on turning around poor Maori health statistics which result from early death from treatable diseases caused by controllable factors including obesity, alcohol and smoking.

So it has been around for more than 10 years, focused on turning around poor Maori health statistics, but it hasn’t yet worked out what whanau ora means or developed a plan.

Alf inevitably is led to wonder if this approach will be repeated in every region in the country, as similar Maori outfits set about turning around poor Maori health statiisics.

The paradox is that Taranaki Maori are spending their chunk of public money on working out what they want to do with even more public money (which Alf presumes they will be asking for when they complete their plan). The rest of us, meanwhile, are watching our health providers grapple with tight budgets and run down their services.

One example can be found at the other end of the Pahiatua track from Eketahuna, in Manawatu where…

Diabetes Manawatu is gathering up a contingent of protesters to hit back at MidCentral District Health Board plans to cut more than $100,000 from the Diabetes Lifestyle Centre.

Under the proposed cuts, a nurse and full-time administrator will be cut from the service, with critics saying the planned cost savings would only lead to future costs that would cripple the health system in treating the complications of diabetes.

The board set up a review of the centre earlier this year in a bid to find some of the nearly $10 million in savings that Health Minister Tony Ryall directed should be made.

Get it?

The district health boards (which provide services to everybody, including Maori) are having their budgets squeezed.

This enables the Government to find the wherewithal for outfits like Tui Ora, which unabashedly and unashamedly says it is the governing body for 13 Taranaki Maori-focused health groups.

Anyone get the faintest whiff of racism here?

Oh, and if Tui Ora want to reduce the time spent on working out the meaning of whanau ora, Alf can steer them to more than a few web-sites simply by advising them to google “whanau ora”.

Their neighbours in the Wanganui region have worked it out.

The Oranganui Iwi Health Authority describes itself as a leading Health Care provider delivering a quality service contributing to the mana motuhake of whanau, hapu, iwi and other peoples.

It says –

Whanau Ora is a health promotion and disease prevention programme that is specifically for whanau. This is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles and practices to best assist in minimising ilness within whanau. Whanau Ora takes a holistic approach to well-being, which means taking into account the overall well-being of the whanau. The coverage area for the service includes the Whanganui River, Nga Rauru and Whanganui region. Whanau Ora cater for whanau, hapu and iwi from pepi to kaumatua. The service is free and the only cost will be time.

Alf is delighted to see that this outfit not only has worked out what whanau ora means, but also has found the way of providing a free service.

Does this mean they have weaned their people off taxpayer-funded health services? And can provide health services without money?

If this be so, Alf rejoices.

He trusts they share their alchemy with Tony Ryall.

4 Responses to Precious health money goes to Taranaki Maori to work out what whanau ora means

  1. Greg says:

    Once again decisions are made in the country based on race.
    Why should maori get race specific pay outs?
    You might say that statistics show they have worse health than non-maori?
    Well, I know some maoris, and they are aware of this and (shock, horror) are dealing with this issue by themselves by eating more fruit and veges, cutting down on pork bones and alcohol. Gee, that took alot of intellect to change a statistic.
    I know some fat white people.
    Ill health is usually based on life choices. All races have people within it that have some bad genetics so they are at greater risk of developing say cancer.
    I think it’s time that maori and non-maori started realising that one’s own health is predominantly based on one’s own life style choices.
    You don’t need lots of money to eat well.
    Perhaps the money spent on pokie machines and cigarettes could be spent on growing a garden for the family.
    Everyone knows how to eat well, it is genetically imprinted. We choose to eat bad food because we want to do it.
    Injecting millions of dollars into health care aimed soley at the maori demographic is rascist. How did they survice all these years without this money?
    They lived off the land.
    They still own enough of it. Perhaps the elders in the maori community can release some of their wisdom and hold maori funded huis to explain to their bretheren to minimise their alcohol, cigarette and poor food consumption.
    Life really isn’t that complicated.
    The more we intellectualise the more complicated it becomes.

    • Alf Grumble says:

      Well said. Ever considered a job as a member of Parliament?

    • S. Kerr says:

      Your response is sadly typical of the many non-Maori in NZ who don’t care for their fellow New Zealanders enough to notice anything except that Maori are getting money and conclude that it must be racist.

      It is an indisputable fact that the health system in NZ has largely failed Maori (I don’t need to quote the stats here I’m sure). When an entire people group in a country have terrible health stats, it is bogus to look to individuals for the cause – the cause is clearly systemic. If you look at the international level, every colonised people group have the same terrible health outcomes. There is something about being overrun and having both your culture and your means of production taken from you that drags you down for generations. For Maori, the best land was taken for the most part – do you actually know anything about Maori land theft by their so-called government? The one that promised them the same rights of citizenship as all British subjects and then found ways to legally swindle them out of their land – no wonder there is a lack of trust of the government and the legal system among Maori. People nowadays complain about government buying them out of their homes when a new motorways is needed, but imagine just having it taken as was often the case for Maori and then having to live with nothing and watch the people who come to live on your stolen land prosper. Imagine then, not being able to speak your language. I bet you would find it difficult if tomorrow, your house was taken and you were required to speak only Mandarin and live according to Chinese culture, in New Zealand and Chinese people ran everything here. I think you would find it difficult to recover and that it would be generations before your descendants would have any hope of having an even chance of succeeding as all the Chinese families who own everything and control everything and don’t prefer to give jobs etc to their own. It’s just an example to try to get you to think about it from another perspective. The reality is that colonisation has caused major disfunction in Maori families and communities and recovery is long-term… part of building that recovery is allowing Maori to have some say in how their health dollar is spent, so as to try to get back some pride and to get better results than the mainstream health system was delivering to them… with their taxes. Somehow people seem to think that Maori don’t pay taxes and that every cent that goes toward trying to ensure that Maori New Zealanders get better health outcomes and can one day play on a level playing field, comes out of non-Maori pockets.

      I don’t expect you to actually give any consideration to any of what I have written but I would encourage you to try to think about it a bit from the perspective of your Maori country men and women instead of immediately taking up the ‘racist’ rhetoric.

      • Alf Grumble says:

        Oh dear. Alf’s objection was not that Maori are getting more government money to improve their health. He does cavil, however, when health money earmarked for Maori is spent on consultations and trying to work out the meaning of “whanau ora”.

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