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Launch of Waiata CD in Beehive

Hon Annette King
Minister of Health, Minister for Racing

4 July 2001 Speech Notes

Launch of Waiata CD in Beehive

Welcome to everyone today, and a special welcome to WVVLC, a group of young people whom you will have the pleasure of listening to shortly.

It is exactly one year and four days since I had the privilege of going to Te Papa to launch the Health Funding Authority's "Get Checked" Diabetes Aotearoa programme.

A huge amount has happened in health since then, of course, not least the fact that the HFA has ceased to exist as a separate identity. One thing that has not changed, however, is the seriousness of the worldwide diabetes epidemic, and the impact diabetes has on New Zealanders.

Today provides another opportunity to raise awareness about diabetes, but it also provides an opportunity to celebrate, and that is what I want to do first.

When I launched the Get Checked programme, I talked about making a song and a dance about the significance of the disease in New Zealand, and said how appropriate it was that the HFA had decided to make a waiata competition part of the programme.

The competition, an innovation to support Maori with diabetes, was to compose a waiata in Maori about diabetes and the importance of managing it. It was a fun initiative, and, if you can excuse me putting it a little quaintly, today the fun comes home to play.

This CD, which I have the pleasure of launching today, is a compilation of five of those specially-composed waiata. It will be a wonderful resource for raising diabetes awareness, and a lasting tribute to the talented people whose work features on it.

The CD is not only a reflection of Maori musical talent in the community, but reflects the enthusiasm with which Maori will embrace a health project to which they can contribute positively. There can be no more important projects than combating diabetes.

The Labour/Alliance Government has identified the reduction of the incidence and impact of diabetes as one of the thirteen priority population health objectives in the New Zealand Health Strategy.

The statistics are sobering. It is estimated that more than 110,000 New Zealanders have been diagnosed with diabetes and that up to the same number again may be living with undiagnosed diabetes. Diabetes causes up to 1200 deaths each year in New Zealand, and diabetes complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputations, are major contributors to the burden of disease and disability.

Reducing the incidence and impact of diabetes, a condition that is increasing globally and which may already consume ten percent of the personal health budget, will be a major challenge.

Predictions are that the prevalence of diabetes will increase significantly in the next ten years. The most common forms of diabetes are type-one and type-two. Type-one diabetes is an auto-immune condition of unknown cause. Type-two is a largely preventable disease for which obesity and lack of physical activity are major risk factors.

Primary prevention of type-two is a population health issue, closely linked to public health programmes to improve nutrition, reduce obesity, increase physical activity and reduce smoking.

The Government made a commitment from the outset to reducing inequalities in health care. As diabetes is three times more common in Mäori and Pacific populations than in the general population, services are being developed to specifically target those and other high-risk populations, including older people.

The HFA's Diabetes 2000 strategy identified new services and initiatives to improve the quality and accessibility of diabetes care, especially among high-risk populations.

The best place to deliver high quality, accessible, on-going diabetes monitoring and care is in the community. A strong focus of Diabetes 2000 was, therefore, on delivering diabetes services through primary health care organisations such as GPs, Iwi and Pacific provider organisations.

The “Get Checked Aotearoa’ campaign was funded through an extra $5million above other funding committed to diabetes. The plan is to implement a comprehensive programme right around the country, involving nurse educators, dieticians, podiatrists, clinicians and Mäori and Pacific providers.

It is based on an integrated approach featuring local or regional teams, and involves health promotion, early detection, education and management, secondary prevention and treatment aspects.

At present "Get Checked” consists of several initiatives to help people manage their diabetes. The major initiative is a free annual health check for all people with diabetes. The checks are delivered through participating primary providers. Significant successes have already occurred, with systems developed in primary healthcare organisations, and with more than 20 percent of eligible people already having taken advantage of the programme.

Other initiatives include better access to education and management services, local diabetes teams to advise providers on the effectiveness of services for people with diabetes, a greater number of eye screening tests, and funding for specific Mäori and Pacific Island initiatives. The ‘Get Checked’ campaign is also complemented by a mobile Mäori disease state nursing service.

So that's the bigger diabetes picture. But to return to the CD. “Get Checked Aotearoa” was supported by a comprehensive publicity campaign to increase awareness of diabetes. The waiata-writing competition was part of that campaign. Waiata are an important form of communication and the competition built on that tradition.

Junior and senior competitions were held and 12 entries were received. Mina Ripia judged the senior competition. Mina, along with Maaka McGregor, the technical producer of this CD, was the winner of the Mana Mäori Album of the Year at the 2001 New Zealand Music awards.

The entries were of such high quality and the messages they delivered so valuable that the Ministry of Health decided to record five of them onto a compilation CD. There are actually six tracks, as two versions of the winning waiata are included.

This wonderful CD will now be provided to iwi and mainstream radio stations, and other stakeholders including Mäori health professionals, for on-going delivery of the “Get Checked” message. I am sure that we will hear these waiata played on radio for some time to come.

Now you have listened to me enough, and it is time to hear from the real stars of this show.

I would like to introduce WVVLC, a group of musicians based in Waitahanui, between Turangi and Taupo, who have travelled down to Wellington to perform at this launch.

The group won the senior section, and is now also recording a twelve-track CD of their music. Thank you for inviting me today, and I now invite you to listen to WVVLC perform their winning waiata, Kia Tirohia Koe.


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