Te Aka Whai Ora is celebrating Allied Health Week (7-14 October 2023) by acknowledging the mahi more than 50 clinical professions – from lab workers to podiatrists – do for our health sector and communities. 

Chief Clinical Officer – Allied Health Carlton Irving (Te Whakatohea) says the health system could not function without allied health workers, who play an integral role in providing services to patients in our hospitals and people in the community. 

“Allied Health is a term that covers a broad range of health professions that work alongside medicine, nursing, and dentistry, including specialities such as physiotherapists, pharmacists, acupuncturists, dieticians, lab workers, radiation therapists, psychologists, medical imaging technologists, and prosthetists, to name a few. 

“This week is a fitting time to acknowledge the contribution of this vital part of our health workforce, who are essential to the delivery of nearly every type of healthcare and recovery.” 

Carlton says Māori representation in allied health professions is approximately 6.3%, the second lowest across our health workforces in Aotearoa. 

“Growing our allied health workforce is key, as we build towards a more equitable health system and pae ora – healthy futures for all New Zealanders.  

“Through our Health Workforce Plan, released earlier this year alongside Te Whatu Ora, we are growing the allied health workforce, for example, by expanding career pathways and reshaping training to adapt to anticipated future demand. 

“Specifically for Māori interested in a career in allied health, we are scaling and funding access to 'earn-as-you-learn' opportunities and supporting various rangatahi pipelining initiatives into health workforce careers.”  

Jamaine Fraser (Te Arawa), who practised as a radiation therapist but now works for the workforce team at Te Aka Whai Ora, says he chose the profession to support more equitable health outcomes for whānau. 

“When working as a radiation therapist, it was warming to see the āhua of whānau lift when they could identify a Māori practitioner supporting them as part of their cancer journey." 

Jamaine encourages more rangatahi to give radiation therapy a go. 

“The job prospects are high both nationally and internationally, but one of the major benefits is that you will become an advocate and support for your whānau. This is truly the most invaluable aspect of working as a radiation therapist.”