Turanga Health turns 10
Monday 17 December 2007
From Politically Correct Appendage to Vital Maori Health Provider – CEO
Turanga Health celebrates its 10th birthday this week giving Chief Executive Reweti Ropiha an opportunity to reflect on just how far the iwi health provider has come.
“To be fair, when we started in 1997 we were probably seen as a politically correct appendage. At the time all around New Zealand Maori providers were trying to get a foot hold and we were just one more.”
Reweti said the small Maori health provider was built on a vision of ‘kia whai oranga-a-whanau mo nga whakatipuranga’ or ‘building family wellness for future generations’. It is a kaupapa that has always been a strong motivator.
“We started at a time of massive upheaval in the health sector, there were Crown Health Enterprises, followed by Hospital and Health Services and now we have District Health Boards. But for Turanga Health, we had whanau who had been through a system and we wanted to ensure that an option existed that reflected a Turanganui a Kiwa flavour.”
Turanga Health has from the start adopted a holistic approach to health care for the three Turanga iwi it represents: Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, and Te Aitanga a Mahaki.
The organization has grown and flourished over the decade.
In 1997 when Turanga Health became a limited liability health company it was housed on the third floor of the Nga Wai E Rua building. It had eight staff and 10 caregivers. For the first two years much of the focus was on whanau ora (family wellness) and home help. It had taken the cash-strapped Vanessa Lowndes Abilities under its wing. All told Turanga Health’s client list numbered around 150.
Now, ten years later the Vanessa Lowndes Centre is the successful Derby Street facility and base for programmes and services for people who experience any kind of disability. Meanwhile, Turanga Health boasts 150 staff including 7 nurses, 65 caregivers, and a campus on Derby Street incorporating two administration buildings and one clinic.
More importantly, around 3000 iwi use the Turanga Health services. Programmes cover a broad range of health areas including smoking cessation, palliative care, mental health, community injury prevention, disease state management, nutrition, Well Child services, oral health and prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. The majority of health care is delivered in people’s homes, on the marae, in the work place, and in other locations chosen by whanau.
Mr Ropiha says Turanga Health started to evolve and earn its reputation as a valid provider of health services around 2000, 2001, and 2002. The incredibly successful Kaumatua Programme was established, Well Child services became available, and over time the organization was awarded more and more funding to provide health services.
In 2002 Turanga Health teamed up with other health providers Kaiti Medical Centre, The Village Clinic, City Medical Centre, Mangapapa Medical Centre, Desmond Road Medical Centre, Dr Allen Marx and Serendipity Health Ltd to form Turanganui Primary Health Organisation. In an unusual model for a Primary Health Organisation, Turanganui PHO is fifty fifty owned by a practitioner association (Pinnacle Group Ltd) and iwi (Turanga Health).
Turanganui PHO Chief Executive Keriana Brooking says the model can be viewed as a success. She says without Turanga Health the PHO would not have eventuated.
“We wouldn’t have started without them because they bring the community grass roots perspective. They have access into people’s houses in a way that medical services often don’t.”
In 2007 Turanga Health earned Accreditation from Quality Health New Zealand soundly cementing its status as a quality health provider.
Turanga Health’s 10th anniversary birthday celebrations will be held at the Gisborne Events Centre on Tuesday 18 December from 1 0am. It coincides with the end of the year Christmas Party for Kaumatua Day participants.
Between 11am and midday there will be speeches, acknowledgements, and a presentation on the history of Turanga Health.
- Turanga Health services the area of Turanganui-a-Kiwa which encompasses Te Toka-a-Ahuru in the northeast, Paritu in the south, to Matawai in the west.
- There are over twenty active marae within the rohe of Turanganui-a-Kiwa, each of which play a key role in the development and provision of health services in this region.
- In the 2001 Census 46.2% of people (19,362) in the Gisborne District said that they belong to the Maori ethnic group.
- In 2001, 3822 people identified themselves as members of the three iwi shareholders of Turanga Health and live within the Gisborne area.
- Approximately 14,754 Maori live within the Turanganui-A-Kiwa area, 2,220 have been identified as living within the Turanganui-A-Kiwa rural communities and 12,534 live within the Gisborne urban communities.
- 5.4% of Maori in the Gisborne District are aged 65 and over, 36.1% are aged 15 and under. The median age of Maori in the Gisborne District is 23.9.
- It is projected that there will be an increase in the 45 years and over age group over the next ten years.