Tu’itahi ‘humbled’ to receive Health Champion Award

Congratulations to HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi who received the 2019 Public Health Champion Award of the Public Health Association of New Zealand in Auckland on September 10.

Each year the PHANZ honours an individual’s or group’s contribution to public health action through its prestigious public health awards, Public Health Champion and Tū Rangatira mō te Ora.

The Public Health Champion Award is to recognise and highlight the outstanding contribution of an individual to public health. The recipient is someone working in public health who has focused on the PHANZ’s priorities in the past year; and/or has made a significant and ongoing contribution to public health over many years.

Mr Tu’itahi was presented with the award at a ceremony which was also attended by his family and HPF after the PHANZ’s Annual General Meeting at the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre.

Mr Tu’itahi thanked the PHANZ for the “prestigious award” and said he was honoured, humbled and grateful for the recognition.

He also thanked his colleagues at HPF and gave special acknowledgement to his family, adding that the award reflected the dedication and commitment of all those who supported and worked closely with him.

“This award also demonstrates the value of collaborative, ethical leadership, of those leaders who stand for justice and equity for all, who have opened doors for me and others. Were it not for them … I would not be where I am today.”

Mr Tu’itahi said HPF’s work was challenging, but achievable and rewarding because the organisation’s constitution was grounded on Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“This means that the organisational structure of HPF, from governance to staff is fully informed by the articles, the spirit and the intent of the Treaty.

“We were able to negotiate and hold the world conference here in New Zealand last April as equal partners with the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), and include Te Reo Maori as an official language, and have two legacy statements one of which was the Indigenous Statement.”

He said because of the Treaty, HPF was able to work towards the establishment of a national accreditation framework for health promotion which has a specific New Zealand component, under the global accreditation framework of the IUHPE.

“IUHPE not only commended this work but also asked that we share this model with the rest of the global health promotion community, especially those countries with Indigenous peoples.”

He stressed the urgent need for strong governance and good leadership in the health sector.

“Today in New Zealand and the world, we have the knowledge and resources; what is needed is courageous, collaborative leadership for all…”

Mr Tu’itahi stressed that values and principles were central to leadership, especially at the individual level.

He said his own professional and personal journey was guided by three knowledge systems: his western education, indigenous knowledge and his spiritual education, mainly through his Baha’i faith, which values serving not only your country but also all of humanity.

“The world is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” Meanwhile the Tū Rangatira mō te Ora Award went to a team atHapai Te Hauora for its work on National SUDI Prevention Programme (NSPP).

The Māori Public Health Tū Rangatira mō te Ora Award is presented annually in recognition, of a person or rōpu who continually demonstrates commitment and leadership in hauora Māori and who has worked with Māori communities. This can also include those who have taken more prominent roles within whānau, hapū and/or iwi, including within marae.