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.
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.