In a keynote speech at the Māori Medical practitioners Annual Conference Te Aka Whai Ora Chief Executive Riana Manuel, took the opportunity to celebrate and recognise the vital mahi of the Māori medical workforce.  

The annual conference being held for the first time since 2019 brings together Māori medical practitioners, specialists, clinicians, researchers and teachers. 

“Health workers are the backbone of our health system and are essential to improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders and we want to see more Māori voices and hauora expertise reflected at every level of our new health system. 

“The health system needs to perform better for Māori in every sphere, for every condition, through every service and every interaction. Our Māori medical practitioners play a huge role in that.  Together, we must act for our future generations. We must be bold and reimagine our systems and trust the voices of our people,” says Riana.  

Riana also spoke of the commitment from Te Aka Whai Ora to mobilising growth within the Māori workforce, by supporting existing kaimahi and their wellbeing, and ensuring Māori have a clear pathway into health. 

“While there are challenges to navigate - including skills shortages, heavy demands for healthcare and significant underrepresentation of Māori across the health sector - we have a real opportunity to reshape our health system and create an enduring, equitable, well-supported and sustainable workforce, able to meet the changing needs and expectations of New Zealanders.  

Te Aka Whai Ora board member Dr Mataroria Lyndon led the presentation by representing the voice of our board and also co-presented with our General Manager, Outcomes and Knowledge Systems Kadin Lathan, on the changes being delivered in the data and digital space, in particular the role of digital services to help improve accessibility and choice in the primary health care sector.  

Other notable speakers at the conference included retiring Te ORA Board Chair Prof. David Tipene-Leach, Dr Te Aro Moxon, Senior Lecturer - Medical Paediatrics, Child and Youth Health Auckland University on the importance of correct pronunciation in Paediatrics and Associate Prof. Donna Cormack who discussed the issue of racism for Māori medical students and doctors and a special mihi to our previous Board member Dr Sue Crengle who was also a keynote speaker.