Uruuruwhenua Health and the Rural Otago PHO
Francie Diver, Uruuruwhenua Health and Rural Otago PHO Māori Board member.
The Central Otago landscape is vast with significant numbers of seasonal workers coming into the area to service the
fruit, wine and wool industries. From past experience the local Māori provider, Uruuruwhenua Health, and the Rural
Otago PHO were aware that in particular the wool industry workers (the majority of whom are Māori) and whānau
coming into the area had unmet health needs, for example, asthma, diabetes, CVD and sexual health.
Although Uruuruwhenua Health was actively engaging these workers and whānau, it was often difficult and problematic
getting timely access to primary care services. The workers worked long hours, sometimes seven days a week, and had little
knowledge of available health services. Nor were there effective relationships in place with health professionals.
To address these issues Uruuruwhenua Health and the Rural Otago PHO initiated a series of clinics using Services to
Improve Access funding during 2008.
Evening clinics were held at various shearing quarters across Central Otago staffed by a GP and other health professionals,
including a practice nurse, public health nurse, whānau ora worker and Māori mental health worker. The clinics
were advertised through community networks, posters and flyers and importantly supported and promoted by the shearing
contractors themselves - including information enclosed in workers pay packets.
The clinics were timed to begin at the start of the season and were well attended by the workers, their whānau
and also the local community. As well as treating presenting issues, health promotion and better management of asthma
and diabetes, the clinics enabled successful therapeutic relationships to be initiated between the health professionals
in the region, the workers and their whānau. Along with the ongoing support of the whānau ora worker the initiation
of these relationships “kanohi ki te kanohi” (face to face) ensured appropriate access throughout the season
by workers and whānau to the required primary health services.
The health professionals knowledge of the wool industry and working with whānau was also greatly enhanced. This
knowledge was able to be taken back and passed on to colleagues and clinical staff.
Similar clinics at shearing quarters within South Otago are also underway with the support of the Otago Southern Region
PHO and Tokomairiro Waiora, a Māori provider based in Milton.