Kathrine Clarke Named Maori Public Health Champion
‘Stalwart’ named Maori Public Health Champion for 2017
Maori public health ‘stalwart’ Kathrine Clarke has been named the 2017 Maori Public Health Champion, Tu Rangatira mo te Ora. The annual award, given by the Public Health Association (PHA), recognises outstanding achievement and leadership in Maori public health.
Kathrine was nominated by the PHA’s Maori Caucus. Maori Caucus Spokesperson Megan Tunks describes her as ‘without a doubt the Wahine Tu Rangatira mo te Ora’ for more than 25 years’ service towards increasing the hauora of Maori.
“This award could not be more well-deserved,” says Megan.
“Kathrine has been in a range of public health leadership positions and has not been afraid to stand up and call a spade a spade! She has spoken up on a range of issue – notably and recently the kaupapa of Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI) amongst our pepi and whanau.”
Kathrine has been a member of the PHA Maori Caucus for many years and, as such, has been instrumental in growing the capacity of many Maori public health leaders, and Megan says one of the things she admires most is the way she has trained and mentored young Maori health promotors, supporting their growth into leadership positions.
Her Maori public health leadership and influence has been widespread. She was General Manager of Whakawhetu and CEO of Hapai te Hauora. She has also had influential roles at Hutt Valley District Health Board and the Ministry of Health. As a manager at Hauora Hokianga she championed change for the community action and drugs (CAYADs) projects.
Kathrine says she has enjoyed the work and journey so far.
“Firstly I've loved the interactions with other people who are also working to improve health outcomes for Maori, the collegiality and the friendships that have been made along the way.
“The second thing is that every now and then you see something significant happen, such as the change the Ministry made around SUDI, and now we have a whole systems approach.
“Yes, it brings me a sense of satisfaction and achievement – as it does for everybody else who worked for that result.”
But Kathrine says there are many challenges ahead.
“We still have an unacceptable gap in life expectancy between Maori and non-Maori, and we still have a gap in terms of access to quality services. We are going to have to keep working in these areas.
“On the flipside, though, we have new tools available to us such as social media and digital solutions which mean maybe we'll get a broader reach.”
Kathrine is the mother of two young adult children and has five mokopuna. She says she feels humbled to have received the Tu Rangatira mo te Ora Award and proud to be able to share it with her children.
Kathrine received her award at the dinner of the Public Health Association Conference in Otautahi (Christchurch) on 3 October 2017. Her two children were present with her to collect it.