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Te Puna Ora o Mataatua has been overwhelmed with supportive messages since their win of the Ministry of Health Equity Award at the Primary Health Awards held in Auckland on Saturday night. CEO Dr Chris Tooley says that they have been inundated with congratulations from other services, Ministers and local media, and this is a tribute to how highly they value equity in our community.

“Tenei te honore nui kia tātau Te Puna Ora o Mataatua i Wikitoria i tenei pō! It's an honour for Te Puna Ora o Mataatua to win the Ministry of Health Equity award.”

This award recognises primary healthcare providers who have taken specific action to address health equity gaps in the populations they serve. Dr Tooley says their approach to mobile healthcare over COVID was the key acknowledged  in the award.

“We were recognised for our innovation in launching mobile testing units to reach our isolated whānau, providing COVID-19 testing with a whānau ora approach, and our support to the community from the start of lockdown including our support through our 0800 Helpline, providing transportation, social & hardship support, mobile healthcare, and provision of essentials such as kai , hygiene packs and firewood.”

“There have been a number of organisations working hard to support Aotearoa through this hard time, and we are one of many. Huge acknowledgements to everyone inside our organisation and out who put efforts into supporting whānau, many like our team who went weeks without seeing their own families to support Mataatua in the COVID-19 Response.”

“Just because you’re in the Eastern Bay, or living rural, you shouldn’t receive services that are less, and in face there should be more support to address the barriers of inequity. We believe everyone is entitled to quality care and having their essential needs met.”

Equity is a huge driving force behind the mahi that Te Puna Ora o Mataatua focusses on. “We know there are adverse health outcomes because of equity issues such as cultural delivery, rurality, deprivation and clinical need. There are challenges with limited access to rural medical services, healthy housing, transport and internet. Our long term plan is to continue reducing these inequities and achieving better health wellbeing for all of Mataatua.

Now the largest regional Māori Health, Social and Employment provider in New Zealand, Te Puna Ora o Mataatua has experienced significant growth in the past few years. From a team of 45 in early 2020, to now over 75, (plus over 500 support workers), they are now recruiting for another 11 roles as the organisation establishes services previously unavailable in the Eastern Bay.

In 2020 they launched a new counselling service, a health and medical academy, COVID-19 testing services, a kai programme, a COVID-19 Vaccination programme and they are currently working on an expansion of their Whānau ora services. Dr Tooley says they’re now catching up with building their operational team to help in the background as well as the front lines.

“This phenomenal growth, along with a few maternity positions means we’re constantly looking for good people and currently we have 12 positions advertised on our website.’’

“We’re looking for like-minded people who want to work alongside us in our journey to continue improving equitable outcomes for whānau in our rohe.”

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