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Turanga Health takes out Community Service Award

Media Statement

Friday 11 October 2013

Turanga Health takes out Community Service Excellence Business Award

Turanga Health won the Community Service Excellence Category of the Westpac Gisborne Business Excellence Awards last night [Friday 11 October] drawing praise from the city’s leaders and cementing its validity as a specialised provider of health services.

It’s taken 16 years for Turanga Health to go from battling politically correct appendage to a mature, well-respected provider of health and general practice services for Māori and non-Māori in Turanganui-a-Kiwa, says Chief Executive Reweti Ropiha. He says the formation years are well over.

“Focus has changed particularly the past six years to becoming a reliable and more credible provider of health services. Better business decisions, attention to processes and quality, and a shift in staff attitude mean Turanga Health has the respect of others in the health sector.”

Eastland Community Trust Chair Richard Brooking has been one of the first to congratulate Turanga Health. Mr Brooking first worked alongside Turanga Health in 1988 when it took the cash-strapped Vanessa Lowndes Centre under its wing. He said back then some may have considered the fledging organisation a “novelty”.

“The organisation is just so deserving of this award. Reweti and his team have created an incredibly focussed organisation and they have capitalized on every opportunity presented to help whanau feel well.”

When Turanga Health started in 1997 it did so with an opening cash balance of $300, two contracts with the then Midland Regional Health Authority, and no more than 10 clients.

Sixteen years on the organisation has over 3000 clients and 60 staff including 11 nurses and one contracted GP. It receives around $5m in contestable health funding to run around 20 services. It is based at a central-city campus, owns a general practice in Te Karaka, and the state-of-the-art mobile clinic Piki te Ora.

Mayor Meng Foon says Turanga Health is fully deserving of the award and has every right to celebrate its success so far. “I’ve watched Turanga Health from its inception and witnessed an incredible journey. Our pakeke [adults] have better health in this district because of Turanga Health’s hands-on programmes. I’ve seen it time and time again from Marae to Marae. Health is now at the forefront of people’s minds and they are getting their heart checks and diabetes checks because of the time and effort of Turanga Health staff.”

Mr Brooking and Mr Foon said Turanga Health CEO Reweti Ropiha was one reason for the organisation’s success. “He was there at the start with so much enthusiasm and energy. He is a great inspiration for any young Maori looking for a role model in leadership,” says Mr Brooking.

Turanga Health delivers health and disability services to predominantly Māori clients, although not exclusively. What distinguishes it is the kaupapa and delivery framework which is distinctively Māori. Cultural elements like spending time to get to know people, family links, and long-term planning resonate with whānau.
After the win Mr Ropiha paid credit to his staff. “They work very hard for the health and wellbeing of whānau and patients. For example, to get whānau in for their annual cardiovascular check kaiāwhina work tirelessly. These health care workers are our hunters and gatherers. Kanohi-te-kanohi (face-to-face) is the best way; letters and phone calls don’t work. They are always excited about their work and motivated, so on behalf of everyone they and our other staff have helped, thank you,” said Mr Ropiha.

Mr Ropiha said the organisation has so much more to achieve but the time is right for Turanga Health to celebrate. “It’s taken nearly two decades and many small steps but it’s better to achieve 10 percent of something rather than 100 percent of nothing.”


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