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Tariana Turia's Beehive Chat - Weekly Column

Beehive Chat - Weekly Column

Monday 14 November 2011

Hon Tariana Turia,

MP for Te Tai Hauauru and Co-leader of the Maori Party

The news over the last couple of weeks has consisted of daily doses of single focus issues like superannuation; DPB; unemployment; capital gains tax. It reminds me of a game of dominoes. Each individual domino is taken out and examined and then put back into line.

Last week we saw rheumatic fever have its turns under the spotlight. National talked up the $12m we secured in Budget 2011; Labour said that the project was under-funded, and never the twain shall meet.

Thing is, health and wellbeing – like dominoes – is about many different pieces interacting with each other. You might fix one piece up only to be bowled over by something completely unrelated. And when a number of the pieces become unstuck at any point of time, that is when we face the risk of complete collapse.

Our message is to think about the bigger picture – the line of dominoes – and how we address all the composite parts. Each whanau will know exactly where they are vulnerable – the challenge is for us to concentrate on our aspirations and make the plans as whanau to ensure we meet them.

I have been persistent and consistent in my call for Cabinet to rise above the silo effect – looking at issues in isolation of each other.

I have also encouraged government to think about investing now for long term gain. As a relevant example, we know that obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are the most serious conditions affecting Maori and Pasifika peoples. Investing in bariatric surgery for 1000 of our peoples a year will have huge long term savings in health and directly impact on outcomes related to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Early detection and referrals for cancer would also make a huge difference.

Waiting lists need to been addressed but public and primary health should be where the biggest investment should be made to intervene, prevent and treat early.

Going back then to the dominoes game. Let’s take rheumatic fever. I’m really pleased at the practical difference our campaign is achieving through a range of tools – throat swabbing, health worker training, education, referrals.

But we also believe an investment in decent Maori and Pasifika housing would address much of the negative rheumatic fever and chronic child health issues. One of the policies that we have received really positive feedback on, is the proposal that Maori Party are promoting to devolve state housing to Māori and Pasifika community groups for whānau to purchase their own homes, including a rent-to-own scheme. Part of the reason is about supporting independence and self-sustainability for our whanau; but we also know there will be other important outcomes such as in reducing respiratory illness or skin conditions exacerbated by over-crowding.

It can be so different. As members of whanau we know how to look at the big picture. When the toddler has broken a glass, the teenager comes in and slams the door and koro is calling out for a cup of tea while the oven bell is ringing we don’t turn around and say I'm sorry, I can only cope with one issue at a time - we do it all! That's how easy it should be at Government level and in fact, that's exactly the model Whanau Ora offers us.

Authorised by Tariana Turia, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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