Regional | Hauora

Tainui kaumātua get extra support in healthcare hui

A lack of Māori working in the health sector is one of the main reasons elderly Māori are not visiting local GPs, 85-year-old Ngāti Hikairo elder Te Papi Te Onehahau says.

"I agree with getting the booster," Onehahau of Ngāti Hikairo says. "Every person has to make their own decision. For me it’s good. I am still in good health and on my way to living well into my 90s."

More than 100 kaumātua had health checks by Raukura Hauora nurses this week. For many, this was the first health check in over a year. They feel there has been an absence of support from government health providers.

Language barrier

The event was held in collaboration with Te Whatuora to provide more health support for kaumātua.

"Many kaumātua shared one of the main barriers was language," Melaina Huaki of Te Whatuora Health NZ says. Connecting "These are fluent speakers of the language and sometimes it's better for them to communicate with a Māori face and a Māori voice."

Raukura Hauora o Tainui nurse Mel Henry has only been in practice for two years but in her short time working the front line she has grown a passion for caring for kaumātua.

“If they do have problems, we get them to voice this with us and we as health professionals will help them move to the next step.”

The kaikaranga and orators of the marae were called to Ngā Taiātea Wharekura in Hamilton by Ngaa Marae Toopu.

Care for the elderly

"It's about care for the elderly who man our paepae," Ngaa Marae Toopu chairman Brad Totorewa says.

"It's simple health issues like ear infections or hearing problems," Totorewa says. "Many think they have hearing problems but all they need is a good clean out."

Health checks 

Health checks, flu jabs and Covid-19 boosters were on offer plus massage. Mereana Masters of Taupiri Marae needs weekly visits to the physio and says anything helps.

"I have a genetic disease called ankylosing spondylitis of the spine," Masters says. "My mum didn’t know anything about it. When I was 13 my high school girlfriend said 'do you know you’ve got a hunchback?'"

Long-time health worker Tutata Matatahi has been inspirational to health workers like Mel Henry and others who want to join the health sector.

"It’s important to understand the benefits of being healthy," Matatahi of Waahi Paa says. "One of the issues is the consumption of the wrong foods. We know it’s not good for us, but sometimes some do not listen.”

Getting a free haircut was also on offer for kaumātua. And the kaumātua who attended the hui got to watch Whina the movie for free this afternoon.