Kīngi Tuheitia to open $12m wellness and diagnostic centre in Hamilton

Kīngi Tuheitia will open a new $12 million health centre in Hamilton this morning, realising a six-year journey by “Māori living their tino rangatiratanga over their own health”.

Te Kōhao Health, Wellness and Diagnostic Centre in East Hamilton is hoping to “disrupt” the historic poor health outcomes for Māori.

On average Māori have the poorest health status of any ethnic group in Aotearoa and are twice as likely to face discrimination in health, and are less likely to be referred for diagnostic tests, says Te Kōhao Health managing director Lady Tureiti Moxon.

“It is critical that Māori are seen when they need to be seen and diagnosed early, because Māori are more than twice as likely to die from preventable diseases. The five biggest killers of Māori are cardiovascular disease, bowel, lung, breast and cervical cancers.

“We need to be proactive in prevention, and move away from constantly being in crisis mode, which has been the habitual pattern concerning our people for decades.”

Lady Tureiti says Te Kōhao Health intends to change these outcomes by “disrupting the historic continuum”.

“Currently there are those who are lucky enough who occupy the front of the line, getting seen and diagnosed so their issues are solved early, and then there are those who are at the back of the line until they are admitted to accident and emergency at the hospital, and only then they get the treatment they should.”

Kīngi Tuheitia is honoured to open the new facility, says Kīngitanga spokesperson Ngira Simmonds.

“As the King said during the Covid pandemic, the health and wellbeing of the people is paramount, and this is the sort of initiative we need to look after our people.”

According to tikanga, the whare’s name will not be revealed until Kīngi Tuheitia unveils the plaque.

Representing a waka, the facility features a central pou at the entrance and four pou that flank the four corners of the site, the work of head carver Rei Mihaere and Pene Campbell, Steve Rankin, Wiremu Tonga, Ammon Tarawhiti and Hakopa Parker.

The four-metre-high central pou represents the powers of Tāne Mahuta and Tangaroa, while the pou at the corners of the site represent Ngā Hau e Whā. The pou feature colourful designs including taniwha ranging from paikea to manu, pounamu, pāua, rangatira kōrero, significant battles and linkages to Tainui waka.

On the North-East side of the building is Te Tauihu, representing the vision of Te Kōhao Health:

“Kia whakatinanatia te ihi, te wehi, te wana, te tino rangatiratanga me te hauoranga o te whānau. Strong, healthy, vibrant, and prosperous whānau.”

Attendees include Whānau Ora minister Tama Potaka, Te Aka Whai Ora chief executive Riana Manuel and Te Pāti Māori MPs Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke (Hauraki-Waikato) and Mariameno Kapa-Kingi (Te Tai Tokerau), the former Te Kōhao Health chair.