Progress on second phase of localities

Today the first areas that will roll out the locality approach to improving people’s health were confirmed. 

We will be working with nine communities to roll out the locality approach to guiding health and wellbeing planning, with a particular focus on primary and community care. These areas are: Ōtara/Papatoetoe, Hauraki, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Taupō/Tūrangi, Wairoa, Whanganui, Horowhenua, Porirua and West Coast. 

A locality is essentially a place-based approach to improving the health of populations, as well as a mechanism for organising health and social services to meet the needs identified by whānau, community and mana whenua. 

There are three characteristics to a locality. First, it is a partnership with mana whenua, recognising their tino rangatiratanga. Second, the approach supports locally led solutions that take a holistic approach to wellbeing, acknowledging the range of other factors that impact on a person’s health. Third, the locality approach will join up care across communities and improve integration with different layers of the health system. 

There are many communities that have started to work in this collaborative and holistic way, and that is the essence of the locality approach. By selecting these first nine communities, we are building on great work that’s already happening across New Zealand with a view to expanding and enhancing this approach. We are also focusing on communities that we need to support better as a priority. 

We’ll be testing the initial thinking of how the locality approach will work in practice with these first nine areas, and we’ll apply these lessons as we work with other communities to develop more localities. 

While this approach holds great promise for many communities, we know that many Māori whānau are especially pleased with its introduction. To achieve the change that Māori deserve, we need to do things differently. We can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result. 

This approach goes right to the heart of what it means to partner on health outcomes. It means everyone who has an influence over someone’s health is sitting around the table from the start, and those people then agree to shared solutions. 

We are pleased to get started on the two-year programme to roll out localities. It is an approach that positions communities as jointly responsible for supporting the health and wellbeing of their own friends and whānau – and that has to be great for everyone.