Outgoing co-leader of the Maori Party, the Honourable Tariana Turia, signalled her support for public health and health promotion this week. In a heartfelt speech, delivered on her behalf to the Public Health Association Maori Caucus Hui, Mrs Turia emphasised the holistic definition of health. She proposed the use of the phrase mauri ora (life force) to better describe it and expressed her desire to see a relentless effort to achieve equity of health outcomes for all.
Minister Turia’s speech ended with encouragement to continue our work: “keep asking the curly questions; demand answers that are sourced in our own solutions. We must leave no stone unturned until we can change the circumstances for the health of all our whanau, and enable all our families to flourish.”
“Health is not merely the absence of illness or disease; a medical condition, a pinpoint on a chart,” read Mrs Turia’s speech. “It must be found in the sense that one’s life is rich and vibrant; the capacity to take action; to purposely make life better.” Mrs Turia referred to the World Health Organisation’s assertion that health is a ‘positive concept emphasising personal and social resources, as well as physical, mental and spiritual capacities’. “We must organise to do whatever it takes to improve, promote and protect the health of the whole population. We must mobilise on many fronts – participating in public policy processes; sharing information; building our workforce.”
“It was hugely encouraging to receive the endorsement of such a respected member of our community,” said HPF deputy executive director Trevor Simpson. “Minister Turia’s words closely match our mahi (work) and will spur us on to continue contributing to public policy, building the health promotion workforce and offering support and leadership to health promoters across New Zealand and the world.”
Mrs Turia went on to propose a new definition for health – mauri ora – which, she says, “is about whanau flourishing – about vitality, integrity and energy. We find mauri ora through positive relationships in the wider environment…”
And she expressed a wish to see an organisation created – dubbed the Relentless Institute – that ensured every person on the planet has equity of access and opportunity to health outcomes.
Mrs Turia planned to attend the hui, despite it being just ten days out from her valedictory speech in parliament. Unfortunately fog kept her plane on the ground in Wellington, so her speech was delivered on her behalf by Adrian Te Patu, Public Health Consultant and facilitator for the hui.
15 July 2014
Written by: Jo Lawrence-King