Published Friday 19 Feb 2021

Members of a community health team are working to deliver a better experience for Māori staff and patients through education and challenging biases.

“The team is based in Kenepuru, which has a high number of Māori and Pacific Peoples,” said former team lead of the Older Adult, Rehabilitation and Allied Health Service (ORA) team Kate Marshall (pictured second from left).

“We need to engage with local communities in a way that encourages use of our services, which is incredibly important for improving people’s health outcomes.”

The goal was to become a more culturally-responsive team.

“However people are at different stages in their understanding of what this means,” said group member and registered social worker Penny List.

“The solution was to form a group that meets regularly in a supportive environment to help ‘weave tikanga into the everyday’ and to develop a programme focused on team learning.”

People in the team have since undertaken DHB education, developed resources for their team, and regularly come together for karakia and waiata. Activities and resources – such as podcasts – are also shared, allowing for flexible learning and allowing people to confront personal biases.

“This programme was possible thanks to teaching, mentoring and support from CCDHB’s Māori Health Development Group and Te Whare Marie – who delivered workshops on mihi and karakia,” said Kate.

“It’s more than attending a workshop – it’s how we apply this knowledge to our work. We’re a community-based service and are privileged to be invited into people’s homes. We need to be able to engage someone in a way that’s respectful, and be competent and safe about it.”

This work saw the team win the Hiranga i te Wāhi Mahi / Excellence in the Workplace award at CCDHB’s annual Ngā Tohu Angitu – Celebrating Our Success awards late last year.

“It was great to be recognised for our mahi over the past few years,” said group member and registered social worker Francenne Smith. 

“However, weaving biculturalism into everyday practice and working towards equity is something needed from all of us. The more we learn, the more we realise how much more work is needed.”