Giving kids a ‘fair go’

In a previous blog, I spoke about Dr Lance O’Sullivan, who is working in the health equity area.  Helping to support that work is an exciting project called Kootuitui ki Papakura, which is tackling the issue of equity head on by helping the children of Papakura to have the same opportunities as other children in New Zealand.

Developed in conjunction with Kidz First Children’s Hospital, Kootuitui ki Papakura brings together primary schools, an intermediate school, Papakura High School and corporate organisations – most notably Westpac, the community itself, community trusts, teachers, health care staff, and many more.

Addressing three areas – health, homes and education, the programme has seen a massive commitment from many people.

In the education area, children have gone from whiteboards into the digital space – courtesy of the tried and tested Manaiakalani Programme, already widely adopted in other areas of Auckland. It has been a huge jump for the children, and an even bigger one for teaching staff, who have had to master the technology while learning how to use it to its fullest as a teaching tool.

It was a brave move from the schools involved. Without exception they stood with their communities against the doubters, who said it could never work, it was too much for their kids, and that parents would never support it.

But the educationalists stood firm. If their kids had the same chances when it came to health and housing, and could access learning technology, they’d succeed.

Months into Kootuitui ki Papakura, significant numbers of parents are supporting their kids using Chrome Books at school and at home.  Pam Tregonning Executive Director of the Middlemore Foundation said one mother told her education was the path to the future for her children, and she would do everything in her power to ensure her daughters could walk that path.

In the health area, funding under the scheme is provided for a school nurse and whaanau worker. Health issues are identified, treated and followed-up. The nurses are working closely with parents and the schools to understand underlying issues too, like a poor diet, attendance, a lack of confidence and bruises that shouldn’t be there.

Simple problems, such as a lack of warm clothing, pyjamas or bedding are addressed quickly, not with case conferences or referrals, but with toothbrushes, soap, blankets and a smile and word of encouragement.

Not surprisingly, the housing part of the three-pronged plan is proving difficult. We had always thought well-insulated, warm and dry properties would help solve some of our health problems, and while that’s undoubtedly true, what do you do when you come across overcrowding and there are no extra homes to be found to ease it?

What did hearten me is that people like Pam and Lance, the management of Westpac, the mum who was determined her kids would have the very best she could give, the teachers, principals and health nurses, and most of all the children themselves who have grasped the opportunity, are proof that health equity is worth fighting for.

We sometimes fall into the trap of surrounding simple ideas with complex language. All we are talking about is giving the children of Papakura a fair go and access to tools that will enable that. That’s what will deliver a good start in life, an education, and the chance to be healthy.

If we go down this path, I believe those children, and many more we can reach, will fulfil their potential and do outstanding things.

For further information on Kootuitui ki Papakura go to the Middlemore Foundation website




Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

One thought on “Giving kids a ‘fair go’”

  1. Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a powhiri with Dr Lance O’Sullivan, and am really looking forward to seeing his initiatives used for our other vulnerable patients… Older People.

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