Mahi is well underway by seven hauora Māori partners who are being funded a total of $1.6 million by Te Aka Whai Ora to strengthen their kaiāwhina workforce through training and development opportunities. 

The kaiāwhina workforce helps whānau navigate the health system and includes roles such as community, mental health and addictions support, primary care and public health assistance. 

The term 'kaiāwhina' describes a workforce that is passionate, resilient, diverse, skills and committed to supporting hauora outcomes for all in Aotearoa. It replaces the label of 'non-regulated' or 'unregulated' workforce to recognise the mana and value that kaiāwhina hold in the health and disability sector. 

Each provider is offering development opportunities for kaiāwhina, including for them to be micro-accredited through short courses and through training initiatives and pathways for the tangata whaikaha workforce, those with tangata whaiora (lived experience), and whānau caring for whānau at home. 

Maiaka Hāpori Deputy Cheif Executive Public and Population Health for Te Aka Whai Ora, Selah Hart, says it is exciting that work is now underway. 

"The kaiāwhina workforce is made up of highly skilled practitioners who are an essential part of our health and disability sector.

"They are often the first point of contact for those coming into the hospital system and ensure that the person they are supporting or caring for, along with their whānau, receives a positive and affirming experience. They help bridge gaps between healthcare providers and communities, fostering better communication and trust."

She adds: "It is vital that they are supported to reach their full potential. This investment will provide existing kaiāwhina with opportunities to develop while strengthening the importance of their role in our healthcare system. 

"It is an opportunity to diversity and develop a workforce whose skills and cultural competencies reflect the needs of their communities."

Te Aka Whai Ora investment into the kaiāwhina workforce aligns with the Health Workforce Plan which outlines the current challenges facing New Zealand's health workforce and the opportunities to address them now and in the future.