Whānau focussed solutions to hauora needs in Moerewa

Ngāti Hine Health Trust (the Trust) welcomed the opportunity to meet with local community representatives from Moerewa last Friday to discuss and develop a working partnership to address issues and concerns around health and wellbeing provisions, particularly primary health care, for whānau in its community.

The hui was held at He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust in Moerewa with Mike Butler, Roddy Pihema, Josie Kemp, Roseanna Solomona and Pamela-Ann Baragwanath presenting on behalf of the local working group, which includes Polly Haunui, Rosie Reihana, Binny Birch and Suzie Hati.

Kōrero progressed around building realistic and practical solutions to deal with the GP shortage, access to virtual GPs, improving whānau matauranga of hauora at home and First Aid training.  

The group raised concerns about re-establishing communication lines with the Trust and the continued care for at-risk whānau, particularly mokopuna, kuia and kaumatua.

Ngāti Hine Health Trust CEO GeoffMilner, says since its inception thirty years ago, the Trust has been committed to serving whānau, hapū and hāpori in the mid-North, including Moerewa and Kawakawa and has operated general practitioner services since acquiring the Kawakawa Medical Centre in April 2001.

The Trust was aware of the impending retirement of Dr Graeme Fenton and the vital role of Moerewa Medical Services within the community, particularly amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Its move to purchase was to ensure there was a continued delivery of service with minimal disruption during the transition.

Over the past decade, the Trust has been working with both Dr Graeme Fenton (Moerewa), Dr Hoffer (Commercial StSurgery) and the Northland District Health Board on a kaupapa previously known as 'Te Hauora o Pukepuke Rau' to build an integrated whānau wellness centre atthe Bay of Islands Hospital.

Ngāti Hine Health Trust, who were initially going to fund the build, withdrew from the project in 2017 after rising inflation increased projected building costs from $4.5m to $15m.

In 2021, as part of the Health Reforms, the Government invested $14m into Stage II of the Kawakawa Hospital's Redevelopment project, signalling its commitment to addressing and improving the long-standing health inequities for whānau in the wider mid-North.

Stage II of the Bay of Islands Hospital Redevelopment Project is nearly completed and will be open to the public from October this year.  

Ngāti Hine Health Trust proposed to lease part of the new state-of the-art building the Bay of Islands Hospital todeliver its integrated whānau wellness centre: combining general practitioner services, expanding collegial support for doctors while increasing patientsafety.

The move would see improved access for whānau to specialist services such as outpatient care, Renal, Blood and Oncology which is due to open in late October this year.

Ngāti Hine Health Trust have worked with local ringatoi, lead by Te Hemoata Henare, to theme and design the holistic and earth-toned interior.

With a nationwide shortage of GPs and a dwindling specialist health workforce, the Trust, with the support and guidance of Dr Graeme Fenton, made a concerted effort to recruit general practitioners to the area - expanding into a global search.

In November 2022, two doctors, Dr Karin Starzmann and Dr Matt Brook, were employed to support both Kawakawa and Moerewa medical centres.

Dr Karin Starzmann (left) and Dr Matt Brook were welcomed byNgāti Hine Health Trust CEO Geoff Milner and retired Moerewa Medical ServicesGP, Dr Graeme Fenton at a pōwhiri in Hineamaru in November 2022.

The Trust actively identifies and engages in opportunities to develop and grow workforce capacity, including delivering a Workforce Development Strategy supporting Māori pathways into hauora and educational scholarships for health.

The Trust representatives confirmed at the working group hui that there would be changes to the Moerewa Medical Service with a General Practitioner on-site three days a week.

The remaining two days will be covered by nurse lead clinics, available by appointment.

Ngāti Hine Health Trusts' Dr Tamara Birchall has six months left of specialist GP training before applying for Fellowship.

The Trust also offers additional holistic services the community may need, including social services, education, housing, mental health and addictions, disability and home support.

"Whānau is at the core of the services we provide, and we will be held accountable to those we serve: our whānau, hapū and hāpori.

"We will continue to embrace new opportunities and partnerships that will allow us to collaboratively design hauora and wellbeing services for whānau that are relevant and sustainable for the whānau in the long term."

The Trust invites any whānau, hapū or hāpori member to directly email: korero@nhht.co.nz for any concerns or feedback they may have in regards to any of the Trusts' community services, including the Moerewa Medical Service.

The working group aims to meet fortnightly to report progress and identify future plans and outcomes.

Whānau wellbeing is the core focus of the Moerewa working group, pictured from left: Chris Miller, Jade Morunga, Pamela-Ann Baragwanath, Roddy Pihema, Mike Butler, Moriki Hogan and Josie Kemp.