Community wellness hub to be built on Te Kaika site

Te Kaika principal iwi adviser Matt Matahaere (left), chief executive Albie Laurence and co...
Te Kaika principal iwi adviser Matt Matahaere (left), chief executive Albie Laurence and co-designer Raewyn Nafatali on the site of a planned development. Images show how the proposed building will sit on the site and what it will look like from ground level. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON/IMAGES: TE KAIKA
Ngai Tahu-owned health provider Te Kaika is to run a large community wellness hub built on its Caversham campus in Dunedin.

The hub, to be established in a new building to be constructed in the middle of the Te Kaika grounds, will offer access to Southern District Health Board mental health services, and outpatient clinics for a range of services, including paediatrics, rheumatology, endocrinology, cardiology and diabetes.

Te Kaika chief executive Albie Laurence told a health board meeting yesterday the hub would bring core health and wellbeing services together on one site, with a focus on equity of access.

"We have been working on this for 18 months ... our whanau don’t just need a single intervention, they need a wraparound approach of services."

Approval for the hub is a substantial step forward for Otakou Health Ltd, the owner of Te Kaika.

Opened in 2018 on the site of the former College Street School, Te Kaika has blossomed and now offers a wide range of health, dental and advisory services based on a one-stop-shop model.

It has also played a leading role in the Covid-19 vaccination drive, organising clinics for Maori and Pasifika and also running mass vaccination clinics at the Edgar Centre and Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Applications for consents for the new building have been lodged by the Ministry of Health and a hearing is scheduled for December.

The plan is for a 2500sqm two-storey building, with outpatient services, primary care and social agencies on the ground floor, alongside clinical spaces and private facilities for sensitive clients.

Teams of staff focused on working with population groups would be based on the first floor, working together on family needs, Mr Laurence said.

Te Kaika, a low-cost health centre with about 50 staff, has 6500 families registered with it, of whom 35% are Maori and 10% are Pasifika.

The hub is a joint venture between Te Kaika, the Ministry of Social Development and the SDHB.

"We want to move a population group en masse out of the lower socio-economic demographic over the course of a 15-year partnership with the Crown," Mr Laurence said.

"As well as building the infrastructure, it’s about co-designing a service which supports our most vulnerable."

Te Kaika wanted to help families move into being supported by the earnings from living wage occupations, and during an 18-month pilot involving 500 families, 226 of them were moved from being long-term beneficiaries into the workforce.

"A determinant for poor health, be you Maori or Pasifika or Pakeha, is an inability to make a decent living," Mr Laurence said.

"We focus on what the whanau needs to move out of that crisis."

The building was expected to be open for business by 2022, although Te Kaika is still awaiting sign-off from the Ministry of Health on the lease for its new building.

SDHB chairman Pete Hodgson said the organisation was delighted and admiring of the progress made by Te Kaika in the past three years.

"We wish you well and it is good to know that there is progress."



Education is the key to any ethnic group improving their situation. Perhaps there needs to be an attitude change?