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Dunedin’s new well-being hub breaks down barriers

Part of the team bringing a smile around health and well-being
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Whānau visiting a doctor for the first time in decades is just one of the impacts Te Kāika is having on low-income communities in Dunedin.

“We have lots of nice little stories around people accessing a GP for the first time in 20 years, especially men,” co-founder Donna Matahaere-Atariki says.

Whānau are also being supported in ways which may enable them to worry less about everyday needs, thus being more likely to make good decisions for themselves, and to further engage in their communities.

Te Kāika opened in late February and is a hub for low-cost, quality health and social services. It is particularly for those experiencing barriers to primary care, or non-hospital services.

At the Te Kāika opening in February. (From left) Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou chairwoman Donna Matahaere-Atariki, Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere or chairwoman, Lisa Tumahai, and Ōtākou Ngāi Tahu representative Tahu Potiki. Photo: University of Otago.

Thousands have enrolled and the charity has already expanded from its Caversham base to a nearby health centre. A third clinic will open in the hill suburb of Brockville by October.

Donna tells another story of a stressed young mum arriving with her baby. A worker perceived her distress and held the child, so this mother could receive help.

It’s about trying to build authentic relationships with people.”

Many communities have become fragmented, Donna says. For example, when she was younger, locals knew each other. Neighbours or local shopkeepers would tell parents if their children misbehaved.

“Essentially the community had a stake in their people.”

Building faith in people

Te Kāika aims to be part of rebuilding community through genuine relationships, working with existing community groups and through whānau having a say in how resources are delivered to them.

“It’s about building faith in people, reminding them that they have the solutions and answers themselves.”

Self-determination and social responsibility are a focus: responsibility for themselves and others.

She says there are a variety of reasons why some groups aren’t participating well in society. However, when people don’t need to worry about the costs associated with a GP visit, and are supported to better manage their finances and be able to warm their home, they are likely to make good decisions for themselves.

“Te Kāika is about providing an environment where people are able to act as engaged citizens in a community.”

A collaboration

Te Kāika, or The Village, is a collaboration between Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora, Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou and the University of Otago.

The hub’s base at the former College St School in Caversham offers GP services, clinical support, computer access to electronic health diaries, personal trainer sessions, a free gym for those enrolled on the programme and educational hui. The University of Otago provides dental and physiotherapy care.

Transforming communities. Well-being hub Te Kāika, “the village”, at the former College St School in Dunedin

The Ministry of Social Development has jointly appointed a staff member to assist with what Government resources and benefits people are entitled to, including housing. This person also works with “navigators” and whānau regarding education, training and employment opportunities.

Since May, Te Kāika has acquired the former Forbury Health Centre and works closely with previous owner Dr Ali Gaston, offering GP consultations. By October, a GP clinic will open in a Brockville church hall, to further increase access.

Part of the team at Te Kāika and Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora (from left): Lillieana Powell-Shore, Mona Nafatali from the Ministry of Social Development, Barbara Warren and Dr Mai Tamimi

All three clinics work alongside Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora, which carries out mobile services, social work and “cancer navigation”.

Those diagnosed with cancer sometimes can’t get to appointments, Donna says. They may face several issues which could hinder them, such as being older and isolated, or very young with children.

A “cancer navigator” aids whānau with issues which prevent them focusing on their wellness.

Growing demand for services

Donna says that throughout Te Kāika there are almost 6000 registered patients and another 2000 are engaged with dental, physiotherapy and other well-being services, including for mothers and children.

GP visits cost $18 for adults and are free for those under 18; while nurse consultations are $10 and free for those under 18.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the South Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, funded start-up and infrastructural costs. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has also strongly supported the well-being hub.

Although aimed at Māori, Pasifika and low-income whānau, Te Kāika is “open to all our community”. New migrants from Syria and Palestine are part of the vision. A recent migrant from within the Arabic-speaking community has been employed to provide support and help identify aspirations.

“Transformation begins and is driven from within their own community.”

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For further information:

About Te Kāika

About Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora

About Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou

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