Regional | Ngāti Pikiao

‘Marvellous generosity’: Ngāti Pikiao proud new owners of Ōwhata Medical Centre

Pinnacle chief executive Justin Butcher made the gift of Ōwhata Medical Centre official at Ngāti Pikiao's Pounamunui marae near Rotorua on Sunday.

Iwi members gathered to witness Ngāti Pikiao officially receive the “extraordinary gift” of Ōwhata Medical Centre from not-for-profit health organisation Pinnacle, at a ceremony at Pounamunui marae in Okere Falls near Rotorua on Sunday.

Mapihi Raharuhi, the chair of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao Trust, praised the primary health organisation’s “marvellous generosity” and collaboration with iwi in the lead-up to today’s event.

“This is the first time a GP practice has ever been gifted in Te Arawa and a PHO is visibly seen to apply kotahitanga with iwi,” Raharuhi said Friday.

“We wish to acknowledge Pinnacle for having the foresight and marvellous generosity to demonstrate what true Treaty partnership looks like both in word and deed.”

Ngāti Pikiao celebrate the "momentous" occasion at Pounamunui marae.

At Sunday’s gathering, Pinnacle chief executive Justin Butcher said his organisation is keen to see Ngāti Pikiao fulfil their aspirations and considers this just the start of an ongoing relationship.

“Why are we doing this today? Simply because in our view, this is the right thing to do - nothing more, nothing less,” he said.

“For Ngāti Pikiao to achieve its aspirations for its people, I think this is a really important step to give them the resources to carry on that journey.

“We see the coming together of the medical centre as the first step from a Pinnacle perspective, and we really look forward to strengthening that relationship as the opportunities arise to go forward.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao Trust chair Mapihi Raharuhi (right) praised Pinnacle's “marvellous generosity”.

The gift enables the iwi to bring together two practices – Ngāti Pikiao Health Services and the Ōwhata Medical Centre - in an expression of mana motuhake.

“This is momentous. It’s a real-life working example of an iwi-driven solution to ensure that our whānau have access to comprehensive high-quality healthcare services,” said Dr Grace Malcolm, who is the Te Arawa Iwi Māori Partnership Board chair and a GP for Ngāti Pikiao Health Services.

“This arrangement empowers iwi and enables the health sector to boost accessibility to quality services for Māori and address historic inequities.”

Butcher said stepping into the world of te ao Māori has been an enriching experience, both personally and professionally. “It’s a challenging place for a Pākehā to come into I must admit.”

“My lesson that I have learnt is to be authentic, to be humble and to listen,” he said. “It’s not about me injecting how I think or my way of thinking, it really is listening and waiting for the opportunity to become involved. So that would be my lesson - it’s to be patient and listen and be respectful.”

Pinnacle is keen to strengthen its ties with Māori across the DHB regions it operates - namely, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Tairāwhiti, Taranaki and Waikato - although whether they would do a similar partnership to that with Ngāti Pikiao would depend, said Butcher.

“I think for us, we do want to strengthen our relationships with iwi and kaupapa providers around the area that we support, which is mainly Te Manawa Taki. I think that will come down to what’s the right criteria and I wouldn’t want to prejudge that.

“But, you know, I think there’s certainly opportunities to do things differently and we need to do things differently if we want to achieve hauora outcomes for Māori,” he said.