A speech to parliament on Wednesday 28 January 2014 by Minister Tariana Turia has highlighted the groundswell of support for Whanau Ora as a model for health and wellbeing applicable to all New Zealanders. Health Promotion Forum (HPF) Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi believes that the model goes even further; with relevance to people around the world.
“Whanau Ora [……] has been openly embraced by New Zealanders of all cultures and creeds,” said Ms Turia in her speech “[It is] about empowering and enabling families to set their own priorities, to focus on outcomes.” According to Ms Turia 160 providers are now using the Whanau Ora tool, with approximately 33,000 New Zealanders benefitting from the approach. Ms Turia is not alone in seeing the value of community health promotion, with Minister of Health Hon Tony Ryall reportedly considering funding for such a programme.
Tu’itahi welcomed Ms Turia’s speech and Mr Ryall’s interest in community health programmes. “We are rapidly moving from a model of hauora (health and wellbeing) by and for Māori to one that is widely recognised as being of value to all peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand,” he said. “I predict that it won’t stop there: this will become a model followed by peoples across the globe.”
Aotearoa New Zealand – and HPF – are highly regarded internationally. In particular our approaches to indigenous health promotion were well-received at last year’s International Union of Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) conference. Key elements of these approaches include a focus on the holistic view of health and wellbeing, increased control by communities over interventions and incorporating indigenous world views into health promotion planning. All of these aspects are reflected in the Whanau Ora approach.
Whanau Ora is founded on the principle of self-determination. Unlike the conventional models of health care, the Whanau Ora approach empowers whanau and communities to have control over their own wellbeing. Instead of focussing on illness and its treatment, Whanau Ora helps participants identify those elements that determine hauora and to prioritise strategies to improve outcomes.
“This is not an exclusively indigenous issue,” says Tu’itahi. “There is a broad movement towards self-determination – in health and many other issues. People around the world are taking an increasing interest in being well, rather than treating illness; on looking at the big picture of what affects our ability to fulfil our potential and doing something to address those determinants of our health.” He believes that the Whanau Ora model will be one that is taken up and adapted for people around the world. “Once again New Zealand will be a pioneer,” he said. “Perhaps what we do need to recognise is that we owe Māori a debt of gratitude for a model that has the potential to revolutionise the hauora of people around the world.”
Visit the Government’s web-page about Whanau Ora.