Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Maori money used for blood test pressure

An Auckland public health organisation is using money intended to reduce health inequalities for Maori and Pacific people to take the pressure off Auckland's new laboratory testing provider.

Last month Labtests started a $70 million annual contract with Auckland region's three district health boards to do community laboratory testing, but complaints are already coming in from GPs about service levels.

Now Procare Network North, which has 100,000 patients on its books, is using its Services to Improve Access grant to pay its GP clinics $5 for each blood sample they take.

Arthur Morris, the chief executive of Diagnostic Medlab, says when his company had the testing contract the support went the other way to marae and Maori health programmes.

“Giving all the stuff you need, syringes, needles, education stuff so they could get all the blood samples and then we would pick them up and transport them in so there was quite a bit of support for Maori and Pacific people in collecting blood, particularly in high needs areas of Auckland,” Dr Morris says.

He says it's clear the business case Labtests used to take the contract from Diagnostic Medlab doesn't work.


The Alcohol Advisory Council is concerned large numbers of women are unaware of the risks of drinking while pregnant.

It’s International Fetal Alcohol Disorder Awareness Day, and Sue Paton, ALAC's early intervention manager, says more than half of women surveyed believe low amounts of alcohol won't harm their baby.

She says there is in fact there is no known safe level of consumption of alcohol for pregnant women.

Ms Paton says young Maori women are particularly vulnerable, because of high levels of binge drinking,

She wants to see medical professionals giving more consistent messages to young women about abstaining from alcohol while pregnant, as alcohol can cause malformation, slow growth and nervous system problems in foetuses.


Local government bodies in the Waikato have been working with tangata whenua on how growth should be managed over the next 50 years.

The Future Proof strategy was launched in Hamilton today by Prime Minister John Key and King Tuheitia.

Project Manager Bill Wasley says population in the region is expected to double to 440,000 by the year 2060.

He says Tainui have been involved at governance, management and technical levels since the process started 18 months, and it has made its priorities clear.

“One is the protection of natural and physical resources in the sub-region, protecting those things tangaa whenua regard of importance so it provides a high degree of certainty in terms of where future growth is going to,” Mr Wasley says.

The Future Proof strategy includes increasing housing density in existing residential areas to prevent urban sprawl and protect farm land, and seeking opportunities to promote Ngaruawahia as the Waikato's cultural capital.


Former Labour MP Dover Samuels wants an inquiry into the Maori Land Court's handling of his tribal land at picturesque Matauri Bay.

Court-appointed administrator Kevin Gillespie is developing leasehold sections to pay off debt from a failed water-bottling venture entered into by previous Matauri X managers, but slow sales means he's now gone back to the court seeking to double the leases to 104 years.

Mr Samuels, who owns about 3 percent of the shares in the Incorporation, says the struggling project was approved by the court over a rescue plan involving neighbouring US billionaire Julian Robertson, put together by experienced Maori business people.

“They saw this as the best deal that could be achieved in terms of this debt we knew nothing about and wouldn’t have put our land at risk, and when you look back at it now in retrospect, you see you would never get that deal again. I’d say now that debt would probably equate to the value of the whole property. There are people who are responsible for this and they should be accountable and in my view there should be an inquiry,” Mr Samuels says.

The subdivision project means the debt has grown from $2.5 million to $16 million.


The new chair of Ngai Tahu's commercial arm says profits for the year will be down, but still positive given the difficult economic conditions.

Ngai Tahu Group Holdings, which manages $600 million in treaty settlement assets for the South Island tribe, is due to report in November.

The other major post-settlement iwi, Tainui, has already reported operating profits down 20 percent and a paper loss of $26 million because of property revaluations.

Trevor Burt says returns from Ngai Tahu's core investment property portfolio will show year on year growth, but revenue from property development is well down.

He says its tourism operations have performed to plan, as a drop in tourists from the United States and Europe has been partially offset by more Australians crossing the ditch.

“That mix change has not impacted us as strongly as other tourist operators because of the tourist products we’ve got to offer, are more catered toward that adventure tourist market that was represented by the Australians coming in. For example our Shotover Jet business in Queenstown still did very well for the year,” Mr Burt says.

Ngai Tahu is selling or has sold its Pacifc Catch fish retail shops, and in future it will focus its fishing business on quota leasing and direct processing of paua, lobster and Bluff oysters.


A Maori injury prevention consultant says Maori do-it-yourselfers and kitchen hands are high risk groups.

Hineamaru Ropati says this year 61 Maori have died from avoidable accidents, compared with 18 Pacific Islanders and 12 from Asian communities.

She says the ACC's national safety week is a time to discuss why Maori accident rates in the home are so high.

“Maori are rating high, not just injuries but serious injuries and fatalities. The majority of our injuries are happening in the kitchen, through slips, trips and falls takes a big cut of that,” Mrs Ropati says.


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