He Puna Reo Hauora

Toi Tangata is advocating for te reo Māori funding to upskill the Māori health workforce and bridge inequities. As a Māori health agency, we recognise the demand for mātauranga and kaupapa Māori based services is currently outweighing the confidence and capability of some kaimahi Māori and believes investing in advancing te reo Māori proficiency in hauora-based services is the answer.

Toi Tangata is exploring the establishment of a kaupapa Māori workforce development scheme that will support kaimahi Māori in hauora related roles to increase the acquisition and use of te reo Māori in the health sector. The initiative, He Puna Reo Hauora, aims to make the reclamation of te reo Māori more accessible to kaimahi Māori by removing the major barriers to learning – time and financial constraints. 

Renei Ngawati, Toi Tangata Project Lead, acknowledges the complex nature of using and learning te reo Māori in the sector, and that this scheme goes beyond basic use of te reo Māori in health related services. She believes it is an equity based and whakapapa based right for whānau Māori to receive care by someone who speaks their language. 

“We have seen a long-standing commitment to increasing Māori recruitment and retention in the health sector. However, with the increase in kaupapa Māori services, there is a growing demand for te reo Māori competence in health related services. As a consequence, this puts pressure on kaimahi hauora to fill their own kete mātauranga so they can feel confident in their roles,” says Renei.

Toi Tangata has long understood the desire for kaimahi hauora to add to their knowledge basket, not only for their mahi, but for their own hauora. Putting te reo Māori me ōna tikanga at the forefront of whānau ora is something Toi Tangata CEO, Darrio Penetito-Hemara identifies as a key priority. 

“Toi Tangata has a bold vision for the access to and normalised use of te reo and kaupapa Māori services in whānau interaction with health workers,” says Darrio.

“This scheme will help to establish a framework for increasing te reo Māori proficiency as not only a vital skill in kaupapa Māori services, but in everyday interaction with whānau and tamariki.” 

In 2021, Toi Tangata led a scoping project exploring how a te reo Māori-competent and confident health workforce might address Māori health and health workforce inequities. From this project, survey results indicated 94% of participants stated that speaking te reo Māori proficiently was an aspiration for them within their role, but 70% said they faced barriers in being able to learn te reo Māori. 

Toi Tangata is now in the final stages of completing a feasibility and investment proposal to sector funders with the aim to implement a kaimahi Māori focused workforce development scheme that financially supports immersion te reo Māori learning. 

Supported by the MAS Foundation, the kaupapa will not only develop a more rounded workforce to better serve their communities, but provide an opportunity to give back to the workforce that has dedicated their careers to Māori health outcomes.