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New Māori Health Authority CE Linked To Hauraki Waikato 30 Year Journey Transforming Māori Heal

Another historic step in transforming the health system in Aotearoa to better serve whānau was taken today - thirty years in the making according to one of the Rangatira of Hauraki Waikato.

Riana Manuel, has been appointed as Chief Executive of the Māori Health Authority by the Minister of Health Hon. Andrew Little and the Associate Minister of Health Hon. Peeni Henare.

“This is a tribute to our late Dame Te Atairangikaahu and to the many of our leaders of Tainui Waka who are no longer with us today, that gave those of us the opportunity to bring closure to the past decades and to take this significant opportunity and vision forward. Now we are reinvigorated and regenerated by the changes,” says Harry Mikaere, Chair of Hauraki Primary Health Organisation and Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki.

He is optimistic that the past days when Māori providers were seriously underfunded are now firmly placed behind them.

“It’s now in her hands alongside her colleagues going forward,” says Mikaere. “Riana certainly has the capability to futurise and configurate equity funding given she is a health advocate, an active business woman, and has been our Chief Executive for the past 6 years.”

Manuel comes with seasoned coal-face experience leading both the Primary Health Organisation and kaupapa Māori Health organisation which during the past two years of the pandemic has required leadership from the front line.

“If you are going to create policy, change and reforms and it cannot reach the shopfloor, it has missed the point. I have spent the last 6 years working here at home. It’s been the great privilege of my career to date to serve my people that way,” she says.

Her Chair agrees. “She has been able to manage both organisations concurrently on behalf of the people of Pare Hauraki-Tainui Waka, whilst maintaining strong collaborative relationships with Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa, Te Kohao Trust, Raukura Hauora o Tainui, Taumarunui Kokiri Community Trust, Tūwharetoa and Top of the Wanganui River people this outcome will prove to be great for all of our people in New Zealand-Aotearoa.”

The new CE commences her tenure at the Māori Health Authority on 14 February 2022.

“This reform highlights partnership and has an equity focus and after 30 years in the health sector, those are extremely important to me,” Riana says. “Ultimately if we get it right for Māori and Pacifika whānau, we’ll get it right for everybody.”

As part of the directive to do something differently to change outcomes, Manuel will be based in South Auckland where the biggest population of Māori and Pacifika whānau live.

“This signals we’re a change-making agent for all of our people. If we’re going to affect equity – if we are truly going to demonstrate partnership – South Auckland is a great place to start.”

The first 100 days for the leader will be about getting the right team in place “because no man or woman is an island”. She brings a realist pragmatism gained from her days serving her people.

“The biggest learning is how to make something big happen with very little. That’s going to be a mantra going forward, making sure we’re sharp, nimble and have the right thinkers around the table.”

“Another lesson I learnt as a Māori Provider is you get a lot further along when you work collectively and collaboratively, I’m not interested in building fences between us and everyone else. What I’m interested in is breaking down the fences or putting in really convenient gates that we all can open, ensuring we can get to what we need.”

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