Te Aka Whai Ora is investing in Te Ao Mārama Aotearoa to run a national kōrero with, and led by, tāngata whaikaha Māori – or Māori with lived experience of disability – to amplify their voices and seek to ensure that their health and wellbeing needs and aspirations are being heard.

Te Ao Mārama is a charitable trust and independent entity that serves tāngata whaikaha Māori and their whānau, promoting their rights and interests to improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

Te Aka Whai Ora is investing $500,000 to develop and deliver ‘Titoko ki e Ao Mārama,’ which will run a process to identify several hāpori or groups that will make up a network of pou to each contribute to the national conversation.

Some of these pou will be geographically based within a defined rohe, while others may be geographically distributed communities of interest that come together with other commonalities, for example tāngata turi (people who are deaf), kāpō (people who are blind) and rangatahi.

For Jade Sewell, Maiaka Tau Piringa, Deputy Chief Executive - Service Development, this is about the commitment of Te Aka Whai Ora to lift the voices of tāngata whaikaha Māori and understand their aspirations and how they choose to describe concepts of disability.  

“We are proud to support Te Ao Mārama Trust to offer a solution that lays the foundation for a national level kōrero that recognises and acknowledges the importance of identity, tikanga, mātauranga Māori and our rights to full expression of mana motuhake.”

Once the eight pou are erected, members of each group will be brought together via several whare wānanga. These wānanga will be accessible and have translators available as required.

As part of Te Pae Tata, Interim New Zealand Health Plan, Te Aka Whai Ora, has committed to prioritising tāngata whaikaha as an equity group in the plan - the first time they have been formally recognised as a priority group in the New Zealand health system.

Today, tāngata whaikaha in Aotearoa experience a wide range of inequities when accessing health services, and poorer health outcomes compared to non-disabled people. Inequities in access to healthcare are worse for tāngata whaikaha Māori.

The Titoko ki te Ao Mārama solution is currently in the planning stages. It is expected that the pou will be erected in the coming months and the first whare wānanga will take place later this year.