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Harawira weighs in on the saga of Dr Lance O’Sullivan
TangataWhenua.com Eds: A contingent of Te Arawa made the long journey to the Far North yesterday to tautoko and show their support of Dr Lance O’Sullivan at a hui held by the community (the 3rd which has been held each without Board attendance). Dr Lance, who recently resigned from Te Hauora o Te Hiku o Te Ika after issues with the Board emerged which seriously challenged to his ability to continue to work.
MP Hone Harwira has weighed in on the issue and published this in yesterday’s Northland Age.
- You can watch coverage of Te Kaea’s piece here (at about 7mins in) –> http://www.maoritelevision.com/Default.aspx?tabid=278&pid=151
(Hone Harawira, Ae Marika!) The saga of Doctor Lance has not been good for the far north’s favourite doctor (and his family) and even less so for the region’s largest Maori health clinic, Te Hauora o Te Hiku o Te Ika.
What is very clear though is that there is huge support for Doctor Lance O’Sullivan who has chosen a path of challenging the normal way of doing things, of using the media to criticise failure in government policies, and where necessary criticise failure closer to home, at Hauora, where up until a few weeks ago he worked.
But Lance is not just a doctor. He is also a great role model. He is a Maori doctor who is passionate about Maori health. His is happily married to a fine woman, Tracey, and they have (the last time I counted) seven wonderful children. He is an iron-man competitor not averse to the odd bit of skulduggery on the rugby league field. He is a passionate speaker on Maori health and when he puts something in the paper everyone reads it.
And he is much loved by his patients because he offers them something that most have never had before … a Maori doctor who understands and cares about what makes Maori people tick, who speaks the reo, and who clearly has their best interests at the core of his being.
And I must make a couple of points here. From all I hear, Lance is as well loved by his Pakeha patients as he is his Maori patients. And, from all I hear, the non-Maori doctors at Hauora care for their Maori patients as much as they do for their non-Maori ones. But having a Maori doctor is something special for Maori people because you can tell a Maori doctor jokes that you wouldn’t tell anyone else and you can tell them problems you know they will understand. And, I suspect, Maori people actually feel better just having a Maori doctor.
Hauora has come a long way from a group of mostly Maori women wanting better health for Maori, to an organisation owned by all the iwi in Muriwhenua, very well set up, professionally run, and offering a range of high quality health services to Maori (and anyone else who wants a great health service) that the far north never had before. For that, Hauora CEO Bill Halkyard can take great credit.
But I suspect there are others within Hauora who struggle with Lance’s way of doing things. The trick though is to recognise the difference and build on that not try to crush it; to accept that there are different ways of doing things and create pathways to get the best of both worlds; where Lance can continue to operate the way he does – it may not be conventional but it works for his patients – and Hauora does what it does best and also leverages off his leadership and celebrity status to capture attention and force authorities to focus funding in areas they had previously ignored.
Sometimes its necessary for a parting of the ways between a renegade and his family, but I hope we can get both parties back together for the benefit of the people. Lance is too good a doctor, and Hauora is too good an organisation for us to lose the value of either for too long.
And remember folks … this is a small community. We all shop at Pak ‘n Save, our kids all play together, and at the end of the day we all want the best outcome for the health and wellbeing of our community. Kia kaha tatou.