“Hauora” is one of those Te Reo words that doesn’t translate directly into English.
In its most basic sense, it means “to be fit, well, healthy and in good spirits”.
But as Mata Cherrington, Acting Regional Director of Te Aka Whai Ora (Maori Health Authority) explains, Te Waipounamu: Hauora is about all the factors needed to achieve pae ora or a healthy future.
“It’s not about illness,” she said, it’s about making sure whānau have what they need for their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being.
* By rangatahi, for rangatahi health event
* How a town of 200 people shaped the new boss of the Māori Health Authority
* South Island Maori receive fraction of funds for Covid-19 vaccine rollout
* Wāhine Māori facing Covid-19: “When you see who is doing the mahi, we are all brown”
“We look at the whole of a person and their whānau,” Cherrington said.
In te ao Māori, everything is linked – so a person’s housing needs are linked to their educational or mental health needs, for example, and their spiritual well-being is linked to taiao (the environment).
Until now the services have all been run and delivered separately, but they have never been separate for Maori, Cherrington said.
“It’s not a lack of service. It is a lack of access and delivery in an appropriate manner.
Te Aka Whai Ora is a chance for her and other health advocates to expire, she said, and build a health system that meets the needs not only of Maori, but also of the most vulnerable people. vulnerable people of Aotearoa.
Born and raised Southlander Cherrington (Ngāti Hine, Te Kapotai, Ngāpuhi-Nui-Tonu, Ngāi Pakeha) was appointed to lead the development of the Te Aka Whai Ora structure for Te Waipounamu (the South Island).
Health Minister Andrew Little and Associate Minister of Health (Maori Health) Peeni Henare have officially launched two new health entities at AUT in Manukau, South Auckland.
Unlike Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, which had an existing health system to adapt, Te Aka Whai Ora is a blank canvas, Cherrington said.
She will spend the coming months meeting with Maori providers and working out how services can be ordered.
But whatever the final product, it will have to be flexible, she said, because how services are delivered in Hokitika will be very different from how they are delivered in Ōtautahi (Christchurch) or Rakiura (Stewart Island). ).
And the best way to do that will be to ensure that communities – whether Maori, rural, disabled or LBGTQ+, for example – have platforms that allow them to be heard.
Making Te Aka Whai Ora work will require systematic change and Cherrington said she was fortunate to learn both the community and hospital aspects of the healthcare system.
As Awarua Whānau Services kaihautū at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, she spent many mornings figuring out how to help communities that were “stressed to death by lockdowns” and unable to afford gas or food to travel to Invercargill for their swabs.
She has seen families struggle to get to a GP, let alone the consultation fees, and heard of young mums traumatized by a receptionist asking them in front of a waiting room full of patients for their unpaid bills.
But when Cherrington joined the former Southern District Health Board as Maori Health Strategy and Improvement Manager in February, she found herself having to temper the expectations of board members who wanted to remedy underinvestment in Maori health services.
She learned that layers of bureaucracy prevented her from making the meaningful changes she wanted, and that funding had to go through too many layers before it got to providers.
She proposes that these layers be simplified and better designed, so that services can be shared across the South Island, freeing up funds to invest elsewhere.
At the end of the day, Cherrington said she was also a community member and mother with lived experience; who remembers being mortified when a doctor called autism a disability.
For Maori, neurodivergent people are seen as taonga with special gifts that can be used for the benefit of society.
Cherrington dreams of a society where every child knows they belong – an aspiration nurtured at the kitchen table when she was growing up.
His mother pākehā fought for social justice and taught Te Tiriti o Waitangi academically, while his father whakapapas to a chief who signed the document.
It is the thought of what her tipuna wanted for her uri and what she wants for her own mokopuna that motivates her mahi, she says.
Cherrington remembers his late mother telling him, “If you design something for your dad, it will work for me.
Because a health system that works for its most vulnerable and resilient communities works for everyone, she says.
“I feel a huge sense of responsibility. I am aware that we have a lot of work ahead of us and this is an opportunity. I don’t look at this as a checkbox exercise. This is an important piece of mahi that we need to do well.