August 2023

Heartlands opening

Tui Ora is thrilled to be working with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to bring a new service to our whānau in the Ōpunake community and neighbouring rural areas. The service, known as Heartlands, is an MSD initiative to help ensure that whānau who are residing in rural and isolated areas have equitable access to services they need. This means improving kanohi-ki-te-kanohi (face-to-face) access to services and support to areas where services like these may not always be accessible.

The Heartlands hub at 21 Napier Street in Ōpunake is available to all and can assist anyone who may need help accessing or navigating government departments like Work and Income or IRD, or needing help with housing, budgeting, employment, education or access to healthcare.

For Tui Ora, the largest kaupapa Māori health provider in Taranaki, the opportunity to have a hub in Ōpunake is an important step in the organization’s evolution and for new Pou Tū Kūrae (Chief Executive), Alana Ruakere who was born and raised in Ōpunake a matter very close to her heart:

“I grew up in Ōpunake, the daughter of Anne, a nurse, and Tony who was a GP here for 13 years where he worked alongside doctors’ Pat Ngata, Sarath Gunatanga and Paula McKellar at the old doctor’s surgery on Tasman Street”.

“I remember it as a place that was always bustling with busy nurses, doctors and reception staff and with whānau – very much the heart of the community. I also have fond memories of the jellybean jar! So, for me personally I feel incredibly proud to be returning to Ōpunake with Tui Ora and opening our doors to the community which helped raise me, and to which I owe so much.”

Tui Ora will provide a number of health and wellbeing services via the hub including our community nursing team, Youth & Taiohi Services, Stop Smoking, Breastfeeding Support and Oranga Hinengaro services as well as providing access to computers, printers and bookable meeting rooms for larger meeting, whānau hui or wananga. Our kaimahi will be on hand to assist with government forms and applications, writing CVs and general advice.

Jo van Leeuwen, Kaihautū (General Manager) Whānau Ora has been working closely with MSD to bring Heartlands to Ōpunake and is delighted to see it come to fruition in a relatively short space of time:

“Heartlands is a really important kaupapa for Tui Ora and for the people of Ōpunake. It will enable us to extend our reach in coastal and South Taranaki, providing additional support to our iwi health partners in the South, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāruahine, and will provide a vital service to whānau who need help to access community and government services. We are really excited to be here and to be opening our doors today.”

The Ōpunake Heartlands hub is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30am – 5pm No appointments are necessary – whānau are welcome to drop in during opening hours. For more information, please contact Tui Ora kaimahi: Jo van Leeuwen, Kaihautū Whānau Ora on 027 3186295 or Dineka Young, Kaitiaki Hapori on 027 2174359 or email [email protected]

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