Contents 2 Introduction: a fair go for all? 5

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Factors for Success

  1. Cultural competency initiatives were set up to address unequal outcomes between ethnic groups in the health system.

  2. Cultural competency depends on a relational model that places both the health professional and patient in a wider socio-political context, and makes explicit the power relations between them.

  3. Cultural safety is a New Zealand-developed model that is sensitive to New Zealand’s particular population and values.

  4. Cultural competence measures are backed by legislation which supports ongoing visibility and government regulation.

  5. The introduction of cultural competence measures encourages organisational leadership and ownership in evaluating results and providing incentives.


One challenge outlined by the Ministry is that cultural competencies within health systems often lack rigorous evaluation. Thus it is still unclear which approaches are most effective in improving health outcomes. Therefore, increased research and evaluation are recommended for achieving meaningful and sustainable outcomes in cultural competence. Improved integration and evaluation of cultural competence practices can lead to better outcomes through improved communication between doctors and patients, in terms of treatment acceptability and adherence to treatment plans.118 Measurements of doctor performance in delivery of services to Maori, Pacific and ethnic patients are critical to addressing the effectiveness of cultural competence initiatives and thus in addressing unconscious manifestations of structural discrimination.

Case study 2: Whānau Hauora Village, Te Matatini

The Whānau Hauora Village is a unique approach to addressing inequitable health outcomes, with a focus specifically on Māori health.119 Designed to provide whānau with greater access to primary healthcare access, the Whānau Hauora Village acknowledges the existence of structural discrimination by differential access and treatment for Māori patients. The Whānau Hauora Village aims to take health out of a European health framework and into a Māori health framework, thus “bringing the door of health” to whānau and communities The Village model is based on Mason Durie’s holistic model of wellbeing - Te Whare Tapa Whā - and the four pillars of health: whānau (family health) tinana (physical health) hinengaro (mental health) and wairua (spiritual health).120

Set up for the first time in 2011, the Whānau Hauora Village brought health services into a Māori cultural setting. Te Matatini o te Rā – the national kapa haka festival - in Gisborne was selected as an ideal first venue. Te Matatini attracts thousands of people, mainly Māori, from throughout New Zealand for a five-day cultural festival; 50,000 people attended the 2011 festival.

At the Whānau Hauora Village, 50 staff from national and regional organisations worked together within a large tent to provide health information, advice and direct services. The initiative was co-ordinated by PHARMAC, the government agency responsible for purchasing pharmaceuticals for District Health Boards (DHBs). Partner organisations include: the Tairāwhiti DHB; Plunket; the National Heart Foundation; Te Hotu Manawa Māori; Te Ora staff; Māori Pharmaceuticists Association staff; Quit Group; Health Sponsorship Council; Turanganui-a-Kiwa Health and Midlands Health Network.

Due to space and staff constraints at the festival, the Whānau Hauora Village focussed on the key health issues that most affect Māori: diabetes and cervical smears for women, heart checks for men, and tamariki ora services for young children and babies. Whānau Hauora also offered smoking cessation support, medication and pharmacy services, nutrition and physical activity advice. Specialist services were provided by senior Māori clinicians in sexual health, oncology, and medication advice and counselling.

An evaluation of the Whānau Hauora Village was published in April 2011. It presents feedback from whānau who visited the tent, information about how the project was organised and carried out, conclusions and recommendations. It reports that 2,500 of the 50,000 whānau at Te Matatini visited the Whānau Hauora Village. Of those:

  • 303 men had heart checks. 145 of the 303 had moderate to very high risk of a heart attack within the next five years. Followups with those men were completed after Te Matatini.

  • 500 women had diabetes checks and reported they were pleased with the service.

  • 20 women had cervical smears, including some in their middle to late years who had not had one before. All referrals that were necessary have since been completed.

  • 200 contacts were made with whānau with young children and babies.

  • one family were diagnosed with an acute skin infection, and treated on-site by a multi-disciplinary team including a Plunket nurse, pharmacist and doctor. 121

Part of the foundational philosophy of the Whānau Hauora Village was Kotahitanga (unity), and providing care to address key Maori health issues. The focus was therefore on whānau and not the individual service providers: “it’s about whānau services and not our brand”. For that reason, all providers were asked to work without their usual uniform. Instead, there was one uniform for all staff and all advertising within the tent carried the same logo. A simple uniform (t-shirt) worn by all staff helped to address the unspoken power imbalance between health providers and patients by allowing patients to feel more at ease in connecting with the health providers. The evaluation found that “one brand, one team is less confusing for whānau, when offering health services, than a mix of stalls with little space and services to offer”. 122
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