Turia: Pacific Grant Fund Post-Conference Workshop
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
Wednesday 4 December
Pacific Grant Fund
Te Wharewaka o Poneke, Wellington Waterfront
I want to thank Dr Debbie Ryan for extending the welcome for me to be here – and acknowledge Hilda Fa’asalele for her kind introduction.
It is a pleasure to be here with you all on the verges of the rippling waters of Te Whanganui-a-Tara. It was an inspired choice to hold this event at Te Wharewaka o Poneke.
Firstly, we acknowledge the significance of this place, once the harbour frontage of Te Aro Pa, kainga of one of the largest Maori communities in Wellington up until the 1880s.
The unique history and whakapapa of this place is captured in the names around this complex. It is indeed rich terrain in which you all as indigenous health researchers can contemplate the pathways forward for your respective peoples.
This evening, we gather from many different directions – brought together with common aspirations for improving the health of Pasifika communities. I call this Whanau Ora – we might also call it Pasifika Pride.
Tonight we celebrate our collective journey as Aniva nurses, health professionals, health officials, policy-makers, the broader health workforce and our greater Pasifika community.
The cross-fertilisation – the talking together from different places – is key to our future success. If there is one thing that stands out for me with Whanau Ora it is the importance of bringing everyone into the waka – whether that be by cross-sector partnerships or a collaboration within the community.
Our interests lie with one another – and we must look after each other in the way that we would look after our own. I want to talk a bit more about the importance of the waka.
As uri o te awa tupua, the Whanganui River, the waka takes on meaning for me as an expression of our cultural pride in identity. Every year our families take to the river, travelling via waka with support crew on the roads.
Our journey – Te Tira Hoe Waka – is about retracing our important places, our pa sites, while at the same relearning the traditional waiata and korero, familiarising ourselves with the land, the flora and fauna, and of course each other. No matter how many times we travel, it is a precious journey of discovery.
As peoples of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa the vaka/canoe is a central concept in both history and metaphor - it represents the skills and experience of traditional Pacific navigation and the resilience and optimism associated with exploring new horizons.
As you came here tonight, you will have walked past the two ceremonial waka taua and waka ama that are hosted in this venue. They speak to us – they remind us of our journey past, present and future – and they are vessels that demonstrate a story that is proudly Pacific.
“Toku taina e taofi tou
Manatua na toeaina i to tatou mulivaka.”
“My younger sibling, hold steadfast
to your culture
Remember like the stern of the canoe
Our ancestors are with us as we journey into the future.”
This proverb from Tokelau expresses the journey we are on – to nurture and strengthen the wellbeing, aspirations and mana of Pacific peoples.
And so it is, that we gather tonight, to conclude the discussions, the dreams, the debates associated with the Pacific Grant Fund workshop.
How strong is the vaka that you have built to sail forwards?
Do you understand the challenges that may come your way? Have your positioned your people in the right places so that your waka is free to glide through the waters without fear of capsize?
Are you all committed to a collective course - as they say many paddlers make light work?
Over the course of this workshop you will have shared key findings of your respective projects; and your experiences in implementation of services.
The Pacific Grant Fund – a fund of the Ministry of Health – is essentially designed to support the delivery of health services to Pacific peoples.
All of you that have been invited to this hui, are therefore by invitation and design, committed to a pathway of excellence for your peoples. That pathway must include service and clinical quality improvements and innovation and a strong cultural framework.
It must be informed by the evidence about what works and does not work with the wider health sector.
There has to come a point on this pathway to excellence that we carefully examine the social determinants that impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Primary prevention, protection and participation has to be pivotal to our planning approach.
We must actively look at the circumstances around housing, social services, employment, education and consider how each in turn and collectively, these factors impact on the health and wellbeing of your communities.
The engagement and communications with the many Pasifika nations within Aotearoa is fundamental to the way forward.
Pasifika pride as the foundation of leadership, knowledge and innovation must be uppermost in our minds as we plan the path forward.
Our seafaring ancestors may not have had a written plan – but they possessed incredible intelligence about the navigational signs in our environment. The patterns of the sea, the mapping detail evident in a star-filled night sky, the ebbs and flows of the tide – were all studied and analysed in meticulous detail before the onset of a voyage.
We must learn from that experience and similarly plan ahead in meticulous detail to ensure we lift the outcomes for all peoples of the Pacific.
I have been very keen to encourage each DHB and/or region to have a Pasifika health plan to provide a framework for each DHB to address the poor health status of Pacific peoples within their region.
I want these plans to be visible in order to make DHBs more accountable for the funding they receive for the Pacific population they are expected to serve.
Obviously it will be critical that each of our Pacific communities has the opportunity not just for consultation after the plans are written – but for leadership and direction into the very substance of the plans before pen ever gets put to paper.
I believe that these plans could be achieved through the Regional Pacific Health Collectives which are currently being established.
I want you to know I have taken this matter up with the Minister of Health and he appreciates the importance of reporting for monitoring purposes and has asked the Ministry of Health to investigate this further.
I am asking you all to think also about how your services – and more importantly how your families and communities – view what you do every day as being of great significance for the peoples of the Pacific and indeed for Aotearoa.
We all know that the best people to determine their own future are the people themselves.
I hope that this workshop has also provided you with ample opportunity to recognise the power of the networks around you, your cultural competency and overall your love for your people in every aspect of your work.
I believe there is real potential to improve our services and Pacific health outcomes if we can access, analyse and use the information that is gathered across our communities and across the sectors.
I truly believe that the solutions that the people themselves are developing offer real hope and will ultimately enable Pasifika families to work together in designing their own future.
You are inspired by the power and the passion of the people – and with that foundation as your basis you can never go wrong.
Tena koutou katoa.