Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
Wananga on training the Non-Regulated Maori Health and Disability Workforce
Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Tena koutou katoa
I am pleased to be with you today, as you come together to wananga, to share and to strategise about how to support the
development and training of the Maori health and disabilities workforce into the future.
The term I believe we are using today is the ‘non-regulated’ workforce – it does not sound like a very positive term.
I've always had a difficulty with concepts like non-Maori or non-racist which describe a default position - what you are
not - rather than being clear and proud about what you are.
And indeed the work of those kaimahi in the health and disability workforce is positive, and extremely valuable in
supporting the wellbeing of whanau in this country.
The training being offered in some cases is also to management and clinicians, so the term is misleading.
I believe that you are all here because you too recognise the value of the work that this group of people are doing in
working with whanau. This workforce represents the majority of tangata whenua working in the sector. It includes those
who work in community health, Whanau Ora, public health, rongoa, administration, policy and many other health related
Of the 20% of tangata whenua employed in the health and disability sector – 15% of them are in these areas of work. Yet,
there is no nationally consistent approach to preparing this niche workforce for working with whanau.
This concerns me, especially as we look to ensure that Whanau Ora filters through the way we work with whanau across the
health and social service sector.
So I thank you all for taking the time to come together to look into the future, and consider how we can improve our
work in this area. I would also like to acknowledge the reference group who worked hard to see that this wananga took
It is an initiative that is long overdue, and I thank you for your part in bringing this group together today.
As you know, I am passionate about whanau development. I believe that our health and social services have for too long
suffered from a silo mentality. For our whanau who have a collective spirit – this segregation of services has
contributed to the widening gap between Maori health outcomes and those of the rest of the country.
Change in the way we deliver health and social services has been long overdue. If we are committed to transforming the
future of our whanau – then we need to be prepared to look, with an open mind, at how we are delivering our services to
Whanau Ora is part of this picture of change for the future.
It is about ensuring that we are able to work with collectives, in communities and with whanau. It is about whanau
becoming self-determining and playing an active role in advancing their collective aspirations and wellbeing goals; and
it is also about providers creating services that support whanau self-empowerment.
I have often said that Whanau Ora is so simple, and yet it is also very complex – because if we are committed to
supporting whanau empowerment, then as government and service providers we need to be empower-ing.
I was thinking of the whakatauaki : E kore te totara e tu noa i te parae engari me tu i roto i te wao-nui-a-Tane : The totara tree does not stand alone in the field, but stands within the great forest of Tane.
Whanau Ora is about recognising the connections between us; knowing that our protection, our security, our strength is
collective. It is about the realisation that no-one stands alone; that whanau business is our business. And whether we
be providers, politicians, funders, purchasers, researchers or policy advisors - we all have a part to play in
recognising that whanau be self-determining; they can achieve their aspirations - all it takes is the will and the
wherewithall to uphold our responsibilities to our own.
It is about those working in the sector to believe that the answers to whānau potential lie within them and to restore
that confidence and self-belief that they can do and they can be.
That is my vision for Whanau Ora – that we all play our part in transforming our future. To do this, we need to enalbe
our whanau to know there is a brighter future, and support them to turn those aspirations into reality.
Our whanau need access to services that support them in this endeavour; services that meet the expectations and
aspirations of collectives - whanau and hapu. These expectations will vary from whanau to whanau, and as a result, the
road to transformation will take on many forms.
As a government, our role is to provide pathways that enable whanau to journey towards their aspirations. For kaimahi
Maori and community health workers, we need both those who can support whanau to navigate the many pathways towards
We will need to establish a workforce that is open to these goals, skilled in their area of expertise, and ready to
provide the support needed for whanau to achieve their goals – and there will be many different aspirations, for many
It is about acknowledging diversity.
Many people have mistakenly assumed that this means we are asking workers to move from being ‘specialists’ to becoming
‘generalists’. This is not true. What is true – is that we are asking for co-operation. Co-operation across the health
and social service sector.
We know that there is a link between environmental, social and cultural impacts on health, and we are looking at ways of
supporting our whanau to access culturally appropriate services that work in their best interests. Whanau Ora therefore,
is about recognising the specialist skills that each worker and provider has, while also acknowledging that whanau have
strengths and abilities to draw on, to meet many of their day to day needs. It is about restoring the collective
response that was very much a part of our kaupapa and tikanga.
Our health and disability workforce are at the coalface of this interaction with whanau. They need to be supported, and
they need to be provided with training and development opportunities that readies them for the future which acknowledges
that many solutions lie within the whānau.
In order to do this, there are some clear issues that need to be addressed within the area of training and development
for this workforce.
That is why I wanted this wananga to take place.
I want for you to consider the breadth of work covered by this workforce – and look towards identifying how we could
develop better training and development initiatives.
I would like for you to consider how we become more co-ordinated in our approach to training this workforce; and explore
options for improving access to health and disability education programmes. Our current training for this wider
workforce is often ad-hoc and fragmented. There is no clear minimum standard for community health workers or kaimahi
working in the variety of settings that they participate in.
While there is the NZQA National Qualifications Framework for Hauora Maori, it needs to be reviewed and revamped to
reflect the changes in health care, to include for example, Whanau Ora, and to account for the future skills required by
Maori and community health workers.
To meet these new trends we need different skill sets, new models of care, and new alliances and relationships will need
to be forged to provide better services that will increase health outcomes for whanau.
I would like you to consider pathways for how we can make this happen, and look towards developing some key priorities,
and targets for developing this wider health workforce.
Today is a day for you to think about the big picture; think about working towards improving the work we do in the area
of Maori health and disability support; and think about what skills we require of those who will work with our whanau
and support them to achieve their aspirations.
This is a time to share and to talk these issues through; to build relationships and to come up with some solutions that
we can all work towards progressing. We need to reflect our kaupapa and tikanga in all that we do. If we don’t then I
guess we need to understand whether we are any different to any other provider of services.
You may not finish the conversation today, in fact, this process will be on-going. This, however, is the first step
towards providing better training and development options for our kaimahi of providers.
Tena koutou katoa