January 2023

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Our outgoing Chief Executive Hayden Wano has been made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, and was a nominee for Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year


When our Pou Tū Kūrae Hayden Wano left school, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. After spending time surfing, he started working as an orderly, because he needed a job.

He “stuck with health” because he became passionate about it, he says.

Training as a nurse, Hayden eventually moved into mental health and by the late 1980s was the first mental health service manager in Taranaki.

He quotes a whakatauki, which says ‘Waiho ma te tangata e mihi.’ It means ‘Leave it to others to speak on your behalf.’

And they have. Our outgoing Chief Executive has been recognised for his service to Māori health and been made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in the New Year’s Honours.

It was humbling to receive the honour, Hayden (Taanaki, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Awa) says.

“I was surprised. It’s an unusual feeling. I think I’d use the word funny. But in a more of a curious way, as to how it came about. From what I understand there were a number of people who wrote in support of it.”

In 1998, Hayden was appointed as chief executive of Tui Ora. Since then, we have grown from four kaimahi with computers perched on boxes to nearly 200 staff delivering 35 whānau-centred health and social services across Taranaki.

For a long time Tui Ora flew under the radar, he says.

“But we haven’t changed the way we’ve worked. We’re very much a kaupapa focused organisation. We embrace our traditions, our matauranga our knowledge. We embrace the te ao Māori worldview and we imbue that into the services that we provide.

“At the heart of our success and growth has been an absolute commitment to proving a whānau centred approach to hauroa — that looks at the whole person and all of the factors that lead them to living a happy and healthy life”

But about 50% of the people who access Tui Ora services are non-Māori and that has always been the case, he says.

Over the years he’s been well-supported by board members allowing him to be involved in other governance roles.

“It enabled me to diversify. So, while health has been at the core, I’ve been able to be involved in a whole range of governance roles across different sectors including the private and public, philanthropic.

“So I feel blessed to have had the opportunities that have come through my throughout my career.”

Wano was the first chair of the Taranaki DHB from 2001 to 2008. He is currently the chair of Te Hiringa Māhara — Mental Health and Well Being Commission, a trustee of the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) and of WISE Trust, and on the board of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce.

Hayden was additionally nominated for Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year in 2022 for his extraordinary leadership throughout Tui Ora’s COVID-19 response and vaccination programme. In August 2021 only 12.5% of Taranaki Maori were vaccinated against COVID-19. By mid-2022, 88% had received at least two jabs.

“It’s one of the highest vaccination rates for Māori that we’ve ever seen across history really. It was a good outcome and was a result of our senses of common purpose, urgency, and a recognition that none of it could be done on our own.”

“The eight Taranaki iwi’s response to the pandemic was to set up Te Aranga o Taranaki and it’s important to recognise that iwi played”. Hayden says. “They were able to mobilise people from communities that could door knock, approach families that were invisible to the system.”

While Hayden didn’t quite take out Person of the Year, this along with the Companionship is a testament to the legacy he will leave behind as he signs off from Tui Ora after 25 years at the helm.

You can read all about Hayden’ Person of the Year nomination here(external link). Hayden credits his success to a supportive whānau: his late wife Antonia, children and moko, his wife Clare and the many passionate and dedicated kaimahi he has worked alongside throughout his career.

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