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Opening Of The Naturopathic College - Turia Speech

2 March 2002 Hon Tariana Turia Speech Notes

10.30am Saturday, 2 March 2002

Opening Of The Naturopathic College Of New Zealand, Albany


Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the opening of this wonderful new facility and apologies from Hon Annette King, who was originally due to be here, but who was unable to be here today.

This building is a symbol of the continuing expansion and prosperity of your College and Research Centre here at Albany and the high level of interest in the courses you offer.

I am told the new building means you will no longer have to hire facilities in the Auckland area. It is great to know, that this will allow you to turn your attention to more intensive research, as well as continuing to provide workshops to students.

I would like to acknowledge Melva Martin who established the Naturopathic College of New Zealand, in 1979.

The vision statement of your College, I am told, is to “train and educate practitioners and promote healing and maintenance of healthy lifestyles in the community”. A commitment of this nature, can only be favourable for families who are seeking to maintain their health, and those practitioners taught how to practice, to ensure every aspect of their participation, does promote health and healthy lifestyles.

Today, your College has an important role to play, as both the general public and the conventional health services, are showing a growing interest in complementary and alternative medicines.

This is a trend throughout the western world and several countries are grappling with how to regulate complementary medicines as a consequence. There are many challenges in this task, including how to ensure patient safety and adequate consumer protections without undermining complementary medicines potential, and devising frameworks to allow complementary medicines and mainstream medicine to work alongside each other.

We are making clear progress on this latter point, as many providers are now offering complementary medicines and conventional medicine from the same site.

I believe we can continue to make progress on this point and overcome the tensions between these two approaches.

I believe there are many practical ways of achieving this middle course that incorporates the best of both worlds. The bottom line is, that it is important to acknowledge there are often alternatives to conventional treatment options.

Your college has a particularly important role in this process, as I understand, your students study reflexology, aromatherapy, homeopathy, sports massage / therapeutic massage (which I would have to say is my favourite, but we call it mirimiri), remedial body therapies, and nutrition.

I also understand that many of your students now come from, or are combining their complementary medicine training with, conventional medical training.

The flexible learning pathways you offer, with distance-learning, short course education and courses in teaching, supervising and assessing distance learning programmes provide realistic access to learning and to qualifications while maintaining their other responsibilities.

Integration of different sorts of health services is a priority for the whole sector and as complementary medicine become more common, it will be especially important to develop mutual referral policies and cooperate, rather than compete.

The implementation phase of the Primary Health Care Strategy is one of the Government’s priority areas for the next few years and provides real opportunities for complementary medicine providers.

The work of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Health (MACCAH) will also be very helpful.

This committee was established in July last year and is responsible for advising me about complementary medicine. The Committee’s terms of reference also require it to provide me with:

- Advice on how complementary and alternative healthcare can improve outcomes in the priority areas signalled in the New Zealand Health Strategy

- Advice on the need, or otherwise, to regulate complementary and alternative healthcare practitioners, in order to protect consumers who use complementary and alternative healthcare

- Advice on consumer information needs and, in particular, advice on the benefits, risks and costs of complementary and alternative therapies

- A review of overseas evidence-based research, identification of priorities for the development of New Zealand evidence-based research on the safety and efficacy of specific complementary and alternative therapies and support for the development of guidelines, and

- Advice on whether, and how, specified complementary and alternative health practitioners should be integrated into the mainstream system.

This is be important work, but we also need to keep in mind that these are not necessarily new therapies, or treatment options, that require radical new thinking. Many complementary medicines are really older, established remedies that had been lost or squashed.

Modern health care is rediscovering this lost knowledge and is gaining renewed insight to its scientific basis. No one should feel threatened by this process.

Indeed the supposedly alternative medicines are, for some, the mainstream and vice versa - I am told that approximately 85 percent of the world’s population rely on so-called complementary medicines, and traditional / complementary medicines and treatments globally it is western medicine that is the minority approach.

The rediscovery of this knowledge is being experienced in especially stark terms by tangata whenua. Tangata whenua are finally receiving some acknowledgement of the value of our traditional medicines and holistic approach to health within the rest of the population.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to celebrate the opening of your new building and I wish you all the best for its future. It is providing an important service.

I am encouraged by the trend of more and more New Zealanders learning about complementary medicines and considering, if and how, complementary medicines may provide effective alternatives for improving the health of their families and communities.

Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

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