Te Aka Whai Ora is investing in Manaaki Matakāoa – a hauora Māori partner which serves the remote community of Matakāoa in the East Cape – to address barriers to health created by rural isolation and climate change.

The Oranga Mai Tāwhiti initiative is about psychosocial wellbeing and kotahitanga for the Matakāoa community through targeted programs that bring them together.  It increases first aid and emergency responsiveness in the community, access to healthcare and information, and household preparedness for climate events.

As part of this, Manaaki Matakāoa works directly with whānau in their homes to boost health literacy, digital literacy, connect them with health and social services, facilitate remote GP appointments, and complete household plans that set out health and wellbeing goals.

Kaimahi work closely with whānau to develop their plan, identify where the kaimahi can help and walk alongside the them as they achieve their aspiration and goals. Whānau plans are drawn from te ao Māori approach and include: physical, mental, spiritual and collective wellbeing goals, culture wellbeing including access to mātauranga, te reo me ona tikanga, environmental wellbeing and healthy housing. 

Kaimahi also deliver regular community events aimed at different groups including Oranga Māmā/Pēpi (maternal and infant wellbeing), Oranga Wāhine (women's wellbeing), Oranga Tāne (men's wellbeing), Oranga Pakeke (Elder wellbeing), Oranga Rangatahi (Youth wellbeing) and Oranga Kōpara (Community wellbeing).  

These events include first aid and emergency response education and training, and discussions about climate change and what it means for their community.

As part of their climate preparedness work, Manaaki Matakāoa go door-to-door to carry out healthy housing assessments and undertake property maintenance for emergency preparedness. They also work with whānau on emergency preparedness including ensuring they have 'grab bags’, first aid kits, spare medication, and that they have a plan on what to do if a natural disaster strikes.

Kaimahi have also mapped out the area to identify where common flooding points and potential road closures could be in a state of emergency, and during severe weather events, drop off preparedness packs to tangata kokiri or whānau which include food, batteries or generators, and CB/RT radios.

Kingi Kiriona, Maiaka Mātauranga Māori | Deputy Chief Executive Mātauranga Māori, Te Aka Whai Ora, says Manaaki Matakāoa draws on kotahitanga or community cohesion to engage with whānau.

“This is a by community, for community approach to hauora and emergency preparedness, which has been tailored to meet the specific needs of an isolated community on the East Cape of Aotearoa that has been continuously battered by cyclones in recent years, causing floods, road closures and power outages.

“Te Aka Whai Ora is proud to support these services to build on their resiliency and ability to respond to emergencies.”