Health and Medical Academy Opens in Whakatāne

Dreams of Māori Medical School in Whakatāne will get a big boost when Te Puna Ora o Mataatua officially opens its new Toitū Oranga Toitū Rongoā – Health and Medical Academy.

The health, medical, social, employment provider launched the academy today with Māori Development Minister Honourable Willie Jackson to officially open the new service. The academy will provide services to people aged between 25 and 55 years old who are looking for employment in the health sector. The Academy has been established under the Te Ara Mahi PGF fund.

Te Puna Ora o Mataatua Chief Executive Dr Chris Tooley said Māori unemployment in the Eastern Bay was at 27 per cent coming out of lock-down and is forecast to rise steadily until mid-2021. He said the health sector was the largest employer in the area and provided an opportunity for those looking for employment or to upskill.

“Health is the biggest employment sector in the Eastern Bay. What we want to be able to do is bridge the relationship between the client, tertiary qualifications and employers so that we get a skilled workforce to fill the demand.”

Dr Tooley said Te Puna Ora o Mataatua was working with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi through a memorandum of understanding to enhance the education, training and employment goals of whānau across Mataatua rohe.

He also said part of establishing this initiative was to take one more step forward for the Te Ao Māori collective aspiration of creating a Māori Medical School. The Toitū Hauora, Toitū Rongoa Health and Medical Academy would contribute to laying the foundations going forward.

The model for the academy is based on the Tū Maia Rangatahi Hub at Te Puna Ora o Mataatua, which is open to young people aged between 16 and 24 who are not in school and are looking for their next step. Anyone interested can contact Te Puna Ora o Mataatua to register for the academy by calling 0800 MATAATUA or sending an email to

Once registered with the academy, clients are provided with a customised plan, designed from a Whānau Ora approach.

The plan allows clients to receive a range of integrated services including driving lessons, medical check-ups, counselling and addiction interventions, nutrition plans, mana tangata workshops, IT support and financial workshops.

Open to all ages but focussed on those between 25 and 55 years old, the academy provides pathways into health sector jobs in a range of specialities including clinical care and nursing, counselling, health diagnostics, promotion, administration, health care assistants as well as homebased support and ACC support.

Te Puna Ora o Mataatua Academy and Hub Manager, Mere Faulkner-Tihi, said the organisation has almost concluded recruiting all the staff for the academy and they would soon advertise the programmes available in the first intake beginning February 2021.

In the meantime, the academy has a rolling intake to upskill support-workers into the Homebased and ACC sectors.

One key element of our model is the recruitment of a careers broker. Ms Faulkner-Tihi, said this role will be able to work with trainers, tertiary providers and employers to secure long-term career pathways for all graduates of the Academy.

During the opening ceremony, Te Puna Ora o Mataatua will also sign a partnership with Nga Pou Mana to develop the Māori workforce into Allied Health roles across the country.

The Toitū Oranga, Toitū Rongoa academy is based at 132 MacAlister Street, Whakatāne, which also houses the counselling service provided by Te Puna Ora o Mataatua.

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