Access to health services for all its communities will be the focus for Wairoa as it sets up a locality planning network as part of the upcoming Government health reforms.

Wairoa, with a population of about 9,000, two-thirds Māori, has been named as one of  nine ‘pilot’ localities that will set up a protoype of how communities, including iwi, have a say on what health services are provided for them, and how they will be provided.

Wairoa already has a unique Community Partnership Group working as a stand-alone entity comprising iwi, government and service providers and including  members of Tatou Tatou o te Wairoa (the Treaty Settlement Group), members of Whanau ora, Wairoa Taiwhenua and the DHB. A working group within this prepared the pilot bid and is now already working on  a locality planning network prototype.

Wairoa Council CEO and chairperson of the working group, Kitea Tipuna says it is an absolute privilege to work with key community groups and have a say in reframing the town’s future in terms of health.

“Wairoa has diverse and isolated communities and have traditionally been part of the Post Code lottery with limited access to services and Government funding models that have split us apart. Now we are keen to be the author or our own destiny and no longer Wellington-led,” he says. 

“We are Wairoa-based on a ‘by Wairoa, for Wairoa, to Wairoa’ approach and the overall aim is for our health services to be community-led, iwi-partnered and Government enabled.”

As the Community Partnership Group works through the pilot prototype for Wairoa, Kitea says access to health services will be a key focus. “We will be asking how do our communities access services and be self-determining? What does that look like? And what might this look like for our different groups such as kaumātua, tamariki; those with long-term health conditions; and our rural communities including Nuhaka, Māhia and Morewa; as well as for our Online services.”

Emma Foster, Executive Director Planning Funding and Performance at Hawke’s Bay DHB, says the significant amount of work from Wairoa community leaders to drive this proposal to a successful conclusion should not be underestimated.

“The DHB’s role was to hold the pen, the ideas and approach all belong to Wairoa. 

“To produce a comprehensive plan and proposal within a short time frame showed the depth of commitment to the rohe, and for it to be recognised in this way shows the unique challenges that rural communities face is understood.”

The ‘locality’ approach to health care takes a holistic line to wellbeing by recognising the range of factors that impact on a person’s health. It will join up care across communities and improve integration with different layers of the health system. 

“Specifically, within the Wairoa locality it builds on the strength of existing relationships across iwi, council, social, education, whānau ora and other providers through the Wairoa Community Partnership Group for a multidimensional picture,” says Ms Foster.

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