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Friday 5 August 2022 8:56am

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has appointed three wāhine Māori from the University of Otago to its newly established Iwi-Māori Partnership Board, Te Tauraki.

suzportraitProfessor Suzanne Pitama

The establishment of Te Tauraki will further contribute to the current health reform, reaffirming the commitment and recognition of delivering health outcomes for Māori as obliged under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The board will engage with whānau, hapū and communities within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (region) and act as the steward of hauora Māori, collaborating with Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) and the newly established Te Aka Whai Ora (Māori Health Authority).

Professor Suzanne Pitama, Associate Professor Emma Wyeth and Dr Maira Patu will join four other appointees bringing a diverse range of experience in Māori public health, disability, governance, genetics, psychology, and clinical knowledge.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu said in a statement that Te Tauraki will advocate and represent Ngāi Tahu perspectives on the hauora (health) needs and aspirations of Māori living within the takiwā.

emmaportraitProfessor Emma Wyeth

Speaking about the board, Lisa Tumahai, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere says, “We are excited to have very experienced and dedicated board members. This is a critical kaupapa (project) that will have significant impact in improving the health outcomes of Māori whānui in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā”.

Board appointee and first wāhine Māori Dean of any Otago Medical School Professor Pitama says: “It is a real privilege to be appointed to the board. Especially so, as a descendant of Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Whare, being invited to contribute to the aspirations of Ngāi Tahu”.

Professor Pitama, a former director of the University's Māori Indigenous Health Innovation group said “the opportunity presented is historic. We have a real chance to advocate for something that is right for us against inequities so entrenched.”

”The University of Otago has afforded the opportunity to engage in research allowing us to find the evidence and inform of the changes and work that needs to be done.”

Associate Professor Wyeth (Kāi Tahu, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga), who is the Associate Dean Māori for the Division of Health Sciences at Otago, has researched in numerous fields including Māori health, health inequities, injury and disability, health systems and engagement as well as genetic research.

Having three wāhine Māori from Otago appointed to Te Tauraki is a recognition of the strength of Māori health leadership and expertise at the University, she says.

“All of the work we do at the university is focused on Māori health equity. The health and disability system reforms have real potential to significantly improve Māori health and I'm really looking forward to being able to play a key part in this exciting transformation.”

“Te Tauraki is part of an opportunity to contribute to and fulfil a key aspect of Te Kerēme (the Ngāī Tahu claim), namely the adequate provision of 'schools and hospitals' and of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

“The role Te Tauraki has been tasked with is a tangible expression of our tribal whakataukī – mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri a muri ake nei (for us, and our children after us).”

Dr Maira Patu (Ngāi Tahu, Te Arawa) is the third Otago staff member to join Te Tauraki. Dr. Patu draws on local Māori patient experiences in the health system to support transformative practice, a background well suited for her role with Te Tauraki.

- Kōrero by Keanu Flavell

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