Maori led services know best when it comes to dealing with Maori people according to a Tuhoe health provider.
Te KaoKao o Takapau, a family run Maori organisation based in Taneatua, believes its cultural knowledge base has allowed it to successfully deliver services to its people when others haven’t always been able to.
The organisation was launched in 1998 to provide assistance, support and health services to the people of Tuhoe as well as making the access and understanding of other health services easier.
Te KaoKao o Takapau’s Whanau Ora team leader Angie Harawira said the organisation encompassed tikanga and cultural values which had allowed Maori to feel more comfortable approaching it rather than other services.
It’s definitely about having a presence that people know and can relate to as well as providing high quality services. In our particular area te reo Maori is our main language. Our children and kaumatua need people who can speak Maori. The majority of our staff do and are able to work alongside services that do not have Maori speakers,” she said.
She said the organisation acted as a go-between for clients and outside services.
“It’s about providing the best for our people or finding out who can provide it. We have a strong advocacy role in helping other services get into our area, homes and with our people,” she said. Ms Harawira said her sister Hana Harawira had started the organisation after experiencing difficulties herself accessing support services. She said her sister felt that if she was having difficulty, even though she had strong networks within the health community after having worked for the Crippled Children’s Society, other Maori without them must have been fairing worse.
“She did a lot of talking with other Maori whanau and found there was a huge gap in what Maori and non-Maori whanau were receiving or accessing,” she said.
“She decided there was a definite need to have a Maori service that could advocate for our whanau ensuring they had equal access, means and services available to them.”
Ms Harawira said there was a need for more Maori led services like Te KaoKao o Takapau for Maori throughout New Zealand.
Our people need Maori working for Maori and providing services that can promote sustainable healthy life choices and life plans. We are totally committed to our people, our community and our philosophy; Kawea te kura nui, Kawea te kura roa: Hold fast to your values, your beliefs, your heritage, your traditions and what you have achieved as you seek new pathways and horizons.”
She said the aim of the organisation had always been to get involved, be active and be there in the community.
“If you ask people who we are, they can tell you. If you ask them what our mahi is, they can talk about us. You can go into a kohanga, kura, marae or other local services and Te Kaokao o Takapau is known,” she said.
Ms Harawira said Te KaoKao o Takapau was very much a whanau service.
“We employ whanau and Hana has never apologised for the fact that one of her aims has been to educate and train our whanau and help them gain qualifications and careers. We have high expectations and will not settle for anything that is not up to our expectations.”
The organisation is currently under the umbrella of the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s Te Ao Marama Whanau Ora Collective Trust and holds a number of Ministry of Health and District Health Board contracts.
Whanau Ora is a Government social policy requiring social agencies to work together to provide health and social services to try and improve the general wellbeing and build the capacity of New Zealand families.
Ms Harawira said the main issue facing Te KaoKao o Takapau however was not being able to do enough for its people due to a lack of government funding.
Our people are not being catered for adequately due to a lack of money, scarcity of available programmes and reductions in health funding. More funding and programmes are needed for our youth in particular,” she said.
“Government funding for our services needs to be extended so that sustainable and quality services are provided for our people.”