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New role in economic links
When Ngamata Skipper began working at Tui Ora in 2001 it was in its early days – now she’s back and relishing a new role as Economic Development Relationship Manager.
“I was there at the baby stage and now we are at a place, as an organisation, where we have matured and we can be clear that these are the expectations and this is how we want kaimahi to work with our people.”
Ngamata’s role, established in February, reflects an evolving environment for iwi in Taranaki, which has seen seven of the eight iwi settle their Treaty of Waitangi claims. Iwi are looking to economic opportunities that will support self-determination for their people.
Tui Ora has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi, and has worked collaboratively delivering health services with South Taranaki iwi Ngaruahine and Ngāti Ruanui.
Its position as a pan-tribal backbone organisation, established in Taranaki in 1998, puts it in a sound position for new opportunities, says Ngamata.
She began working in health after prompting from the late Makere Wano in 1995. At that time, just 24 years ago, “you could count on your fingers how many Māori nurses we had [in Taranaki].”
Her own father, a double amputee, had struggled with timely treatment in the health system, while the protests of the 1990s and a growing knowledge that things should be different, helped Ngamata find her voice.
“A lot of Māori leadership has been developed through hauora kaupapa.”
Ngamata’s previous position at Tui Ora (from 2016) was as change manager and team leader. She has also worked for Taranaki District Health Board, Department of Conservation and Ministry of Health in a number of roles including in the ministry’s policy development around whānau ora.
At DOC, as iwi relationship manager, she worked on projects supporting the reconnection of iwi to conservation lands, including Taranaki Mounga. At TDHB she played a role in the various teams leading service delivery change.
Helping people be as successful as they can motivates Ngamata, who is active in her own iwi, hapū and marae within Te Atiawa and Ngāti Tawhirikura.
Another new role named this year at Tui Ora, is that of Service Improvement Advisor Whānau Ora. Michelle Ogle-Atkins, appointed to the post, trained and worked as a podiatrist before returning to Taranaki, where she grew up, to complete a post-graduate diploma in Māori health while working at the Ministry of Social Development.
Michelle (pictured below) started at Tui Ora in 2016 as a public health promoter, taking over leadership of that team before going on parental leave last July.
Improving Māori health has always been a career goal. “This is a job in which I feel I could use my strengths. I like problem solving and making a difference.
“The role means so much to me that I offered to come back early from paternal leave.”
Her service improvement position will see her looking at the ways Tui Ora delivers its services within a whānau ora model.