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Hāpai Te Hauora Releases A By Māori For Māori Data Equity Driven Tool Ahead Of Super Saturday

‘Māori control of our own narrative’ - Hāpai Te Hauora have been busy developing a unique Māori Public Health response to data inequity and disinformation in the fight against Covid-19.

Hāpai Te Hauora is the largest Māori Public Health Organisation, established as a tripartite agreement between Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua, Raukura Hauora o Tainui and Te Whānau o Waipareira and has been actively involved in pushing out key Covid-19 messaging to whānau Māori throughout the motu.

The Hāpai Te Hauora Research Unit and Atamai Digital teamed up to bring PĀ ORA to life. PĀ ORA is a safe platform designed to connect whānau Māori and Māori health providers to trusted information, bridging the gap between Ministry of Health information and community intel.

Hāpai Research Unit Lead, Maria Ngāwati says, "this project was born out of the sheer frustration of seeing my iwi have to wait days for information to be made public when community and local health provider intel is travelling faster, allowing us to keep pace with Delta and giving us time to send "Kia mataara" messages out to our people."

Hiria Te Rangi, Founder of Atamai Digital and a Māori tech advocacy expert is unsurprised by this response, "whānau, hapū, iwi and hāpori Māori have always lead the way in times of crisis, that Māori continue to lead in the war against COVID-19 is no different. Our Māori health providers who are dedicated to frontline efforts are tired and need all the support that they can get, to fight this ngāngara."

"Timely, public health data needs to help inform and support the important work that is being carried out on the ground - they need urgent IT infrastructure and funding support to amplify the mahi already being done", says Te Rangi.

Selah Hart, Chief Executive Officer of Hāpai Te Hauora is clear that PĀ ORA is complementary to other sites like Karawhiua, but it is much more agile. "We see time and again, the ability of communities to mobilise and be responsive to their own needs. This is a Māori public health and technological response that isn’t on behalf of our communities, but in service of them".

"Whānau will be able to access information about locations of the vaccination busses, pop-up vaccination and testing sites in real-time, the platform will be updated with the latest information as we receive it", says Hart.

Hāpai Senior Researcher, Cynthia Ōtene, a Ngāpuhi podiatrist with over a decade of clinical and Iwi-health experience has been studying the importance of Indigenous data sovereignty, which forms the foundation of this kaupapa "PĀ ORA has been built on an existing platform called īHono, which was developed to help reconnect Māori with their iwi, hapū, hāpori, health and education services. It is also covered by a Māori data sovereignty covenant, which means that anything you share will never be identifiable, sold or shared without your consent".

One of the unique features of PĀ ORA is that it has been set up to notify whānau about the locations of interest as they arise, straight to their emails or mobile phones - but this comes at a cost that Te Rangi says that "whānau Māori and Māori health providers shouldn’t have to bear".

Ngawati is grateful for the support that has been offered by Hāpai’s partners to help tackle the costs of keeping whānau well-informed thus far, but is clear that ongoing funding will be needed to roll out PĀ ORA as intended, "we want this resource to be offered to Māori health providers for them to use on their websites, and in their planning at no cost. Imagine 240 providers with urban, regional and rural reach, with the same timely information that is not only accessible to Māori, but most importantly - trustworthy! We want to be in front of the data wave, instead of always chasing it from behind".

You can find PĀ ORA here

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