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Tariana Turia speech: He Korowai Oranga

Tariana Turia speech: He Korowai Oranga

E nga mana, e nga reo, rau rangatira ma, tena koutou katoa. E nga iwi e huihui nei ki te whakanui i tenei po, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

Annette, and honoured guests – this launch means a lot to our people. It provides an opportunity to encourage, acknowledge and support the restoration of collective responsibility and obligations inherent in our culture.

The strategy we are launching reconciles two world views – a western view, and a tangata whenua view.

Whanau is the foundation of tangata whenua social, cultural and political organisation. It is the source of identity, security, support and strength. He Korowai Oranga places whanau at the centre of public policy.

The ultimate aim of He Korowai Oranga is whanau ora – our families supported to achieve their maximum health and well-being.

Health is the focus of this strategy – but it is more than a health strategy. It embraces all the factors that can affect health.

At one level, it requires health workers to consider individual patients as part of a whanau, and take a multi-disciplinary approach to health care.

For example, in treating a patient with asthma, a doctor has limited options.

There’s medication - blue puffers and orange puffers, maybe some tablets, or even a nebuliser – tell me about it! There’s also a green prescription, for diet and exercise – or maybe both.

But unless we engage the whanau in understanding all aspects of asthma, we will not positively address the issue of asthma for that individual.

Dealing with the underlying causes of illness not only helps the individual patient, it also improves the health and quality of life of the whole whanau.

He Korowai Oranga calls for health workers, housing agencies, social service providers and other specialists to work together to support the whanau.

This is entirely consistent with the government’s Primary Health Strategy, whereby Primary Health Organisations are a one-stop shop for health and well-being.

This shift of focus, away from the individual onto the whanau, is itself quite a radical change of approach to health care. And it drives a whole-of-government response.

But there’s more to this strategy than health care.

A whanau ora is not just a group of healthy individuals in a nice house with a vege garden. They also have healthy relationships based on common values, and they have organisation and leadership. This enables them to unite as a whanau, and to work with others, to control their lives and destiny.

These are the social, cultural and political aspects of whanau ora.

During the development of He Korowai Oranga, tangata whenua emphasised that only they can define whanau ora. They don’t want agencies uniting to tell the whanau even more forcefully what’s best for them.

He Korowai Oranga provides a framework for the public sector to support whanau as they set their own goals and work towards them. So this is a development strategy for tangata whenua.

The challenge for the government is to help create a liberating environment that enables whanau to shape and direct their own lives to meet their own priorities. Many whanau will need support as they work through this process.

Such change doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It may mean looking back and reviewing past practice and experience in other times to understand how to make meaningful changes for today.

Whakatataka – the Maori Health Action Plan – describes the steps the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and the wider health and disability sector will take to begin turning the strategy into practice.

It is a tool that will influence change at the national or central level, and provide guidance at the local level. It will be reviewed and updated every couple of years as we make progress.

Tangata whenua owned health and social service providers have also set new standards for ‘best practice’ when caring for our people. They have raised expectations among our people, and put pressure on other providers to measure up.

There is no going back.

Interestingly, Maori providers have many non-Maori clients, who find the whanau ora approach suits them well. Our different approach is not a threat.

By recognising that tangata whenua function as communities, not individuals, and by supporting our way of doing things, the government is acknowledging that best outcomes are achieved when whanau are empowered to have control over their situations.

We have come to this understanding through efforts to give effect to Treaty principles, by focusing on outcomes rather than processes, and accepting that the diverse realities of our peoples are equally valid.

No reira, kia ora tatou katoa.

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