Whakapuakina te tatau, te tatau o te mātauranga o ngā whakaaro, he whitinga te Matariki, hei here ai ki te pīpīwharauroa, kūī, kūī whitiwhiti ora, kūī, kūī kia Raki e tū nei, kūī, kūī kia Papatūānuku e takato nei, kūī ki mua, kūī ki muri, kia rongo mai ai koe te tangi a te manu nei kūī, kūī whitiwhiti ora ki te whai Ao ki te Ao mārama.

Tihei mauriora!

Open the doors of knowledge and thought as the star Matariki has risen indicating the beginning of the new year for Māori, we bind it to the annual migratory bird the Shining Cuckoo that arrives in the spring. It calls to the heavens above, to our earth mother, to the past, to the future seeking knowledge within the universe to provide the necessities of life.

May the breath of life be upon us!

For Māori, there was always a relationship between our philosophies of space and time. Our knowledge was ordered by whakapapa– in geneological narrative, in layers or papa. Language makes explicit the connection between concepts. In the tauparapara above the message is to plan for the future during the time of Matariki.

For centuries, people across the world have observed the rising and setting of stars as indicators of seasonal change and prosperity. For Māori, the reappearance of the constellations Matariki (Pleiades) and Tautoru (Orion), and the stars Puaka (Rigel) and Takurua (Sirius), represent this transformation.

The reappearance of Puaka and Matariki marks a change in season, which for Ngāi Tahu, of the Southern latitudes, is marked by the rising of Rigel, ki roto i te tātai whetu o Tautoru, within the cluster also named Orion’s belt.

For us, it is a time that reminds us of our connections to our natural world; to our traditional ways of keeping time in relation to our universe. It is a time to wānaka, to share knowldege and ideas, to mark the end of our harvest season and remember those who had passed in the previous year-ngā wheturangi, those who have become stars in the sky. In this time we reflect on the past and plan for the coming year.

This then, becomes a moment when we might reflect on the collaboration and conversations about the sharing of space, what we need to prepare to be ready to train the next generation of health professionals; across disciplines and the boundaries of institutions. Partnership becomes essential when we consider the complexity of the emerging heathcare needs of our generation and beyond. Mō tātou, ā, mō ngā uri ā muri ake nei – for us and our children after us.

The health workforce needs to adapt to some challenging trends:

  • the large proportion (88 percent) of health loss caused by long-term conditions, one-third of which are preventable or reversible;
  • growing evidence that people’s start in life has a lifelong impact on their health outcomes;
  • a growing elderly population, living longer in poor health and with multiple morbidities;
  • advances in technology, changing the way that care is delivered in future;
  • people increasingly wanting to be partners in the provision of their care, and wanting improved access and quality of care; and
  • the effects of increasing globalisation (e.g. the rapid spread of infectious disease).

New Zealand also faces a workforce unevenly distributed across the country, resulting in shortages particularly in rural and provincial areas. In addition, specialty workforces across professions are not distributed according to need. The workforce has shortages in particular demographics, and problems with long-term sustainability. Māori and Pacific are underrepresented in most workforces and health inequalities within these populations persist.

We will need to be committed to our fellow collaborators, sharing visions of ways of working across our spaces and meeting the needs of our communities. This will require an integration of technology, data analysis, cultural competency and real innovation in order to prepare for the time ahead.

Amber Clark, Matapopore representative, Health Precinct Advisory Council