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Official Opening of the Otaihape Health Trust

Official Opening of the Otaihape Health Trust

Wednesday 23 July 2008, Hospital Road, Otaihape

Hon Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru

It is always a pleasure to be in ‘Gumboot Country’.

I am told that in less than three months time, the very distinctive Gumboot Festival will bring people from all over the land to Otaihape.

So I have been thinking what it is about the humble gumboot that attracts visitors to this place.

Gumboots worn by farmers, to navigate the mud and swampland.

Long waders worn by fishermen and women.

Gumboots to wade through the landfill; as part of the freezing works chain.

Then there’s the white surgical gumboots worn in theatre; the latest cut-off gumboots which are the fashion favourites of our rangatahi.

Gumboots worn by hunters, by gardeners; the standard footwear of rural heartland.

Supported by up to six plys of extra reinforcing; every boot offers great protection, warmth, durability and strength.

It is, indeed, a fitting image in which to consider on this wonderful day to honour all those who have made Otaihape Health Trust happen.

Those hard-working members of the rural heartland of Otaihape, who have worked together, bringing three businesses under one umbrella.

Just like the footwear that this town is known by, Otaihape Health Trust offers something for everyone – it offers protection, warmth, durability and strength.

It seems to me that that’s a pretty good symbol to represent the hard working people of this community.

I congratulate the former Ruanui Rest Home; GP Services and the DHB for your work with the Otaihape Maori Komiti, to work across the community, in the interests of the wellbeing of your peoples.

You are what we in the Maori Party like to think of an Opportunity Community.

Twenty years ago, this community was suffering from the effects of the post subsidy era in agriculture. If you cast your minds back, it was a time when the Government had removed subsidies from agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and drench.

The short-term effects were immediate - while exports might have been more competitive, it had drastic impacts on income, causing a massive reduction in the spending ability of your community.

On top of that, the downsizing of New Zealand Railways was always being felt by people packing up and leaving town.

That was when Otaihape came into its own. You, who were being denied the opportunities to thrive, grasped a fresh new opportunity to survive.

Your community took your future into your own hands, seized the tourism potential of being on State Highway no 1; and created a destiny for yourselves.

And here we go again.

This new community-run health centre, is about taking up the opportunity to be healthy, to be strong, to flourish and thrive.

The integrated model in this centre, as I understand, will include residential care, specialist outpatient services, GP managed inpatient beds, community health services and General Practice services.

It is about taking an integrated approach to lifestyle management, to preventive health care, and the highest quality of health for mind and body.

In this purpose built facility you are truly able to be the one stop shop you need for hospital, maternity and residential services.

You are in the hub of healthcare here – able to access community mental health, mobile surgical services, laboratory services, iwi health services, voluntary ambulance services and varied visiting specialists.

But Otaihape Health is much more than a haven of amalgamated health services.

You have established a model for educating and inspiring your community to maintain and restore themselves to benefit from every opportunity to achieve optimum health.

It is about encouraging Ngati Hinemanu, Ngati Paki and Ngati Hauiti to work together to bring out the best in all of their whanau.

It’s about mainstream services integrating with the iwi provider – each learning from each other.

It is about the Ministry of Health and District Health Board providing real and tangible support, to enable this community driven initiative to grow.

It is about the directors of the company collaborating with the trustees of the Trust, in the best interests of the people.

Just like those six plys of extra reinforcing, building a prosperous health service is about layers of support, all working together, not at cross purposes.

I want to really mihi to this community. You have displayed your characteristic resilience, your heartland grit and determination, to keep these health services in your community.

There are many dedicated people here who have put their necks on the line.

My hope today, is that the layers of authority - including local authority and government – will be used to provide support and strength – not serve to stifle expectations with bureaucracies that end up suppressing initiative.

The relationships and partnerships that are critical to the success of this Trust – are not just those between Bernard Bird as Chair and Trevor Benson from the Company.

This is an opportunity at many levels, for us all to create a community of hands – a community where needs are met, a community that cares.

This day, this initiative, is about recognising the value of community cohesion.

You have welcomed the leadership and commitment of the Otaihape Maori Komiti.

You have embraced the guidance of TOIHA – the innovative new primary health organisation for Whanganui; as the Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation.

You have worked with local businesses throughout Otaihape to achieve positive health outcomes for the whole community.

You are doing it in style – a community that cares; a community that takes responsibility; a community that has stood up to the challenge of taking hold of an opportunity for your future.

I am indeed proud to be here to be able to say, I was there, where the Otaihape Health Trust officially opened its doors.


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