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26 July, 2021

The bus with 11 steering wheels and 11 brakes: Celebrating National Hauora Coalition

The bus with 11 steering wheels and 11 brakes: Celebrating National Hauora Coalition

An organisation that began as a bus with 11 steering wheels and 11 brakes today celebrated multiple anniversaries and a new home.

In the spirit of Matariki, today marked the beginning of the National Hauora Coalition’s next journey, as well as recognition of its achievements to date, says the organisation’s chief executive Simon Royal.

Celebrating in style with birthday cake, a swathe of balloons and plenty of kai, NHC welcomed guests, including Dames Tariana Turia and Paula Rebstock and Sir Bill English, to its new offices in AECOM House, central Auckland. Previously, they were located on Rosebank Road in Avondale.

A simple statement

The successes of the coalition, which turns 10 this year, can be attributed to the “coalescing” of a group of 11 committed hauora Māori advocates, says former chair Henare Mason.

Officially operational as a PHO in 2011, the coalition’s history goes back at least two decades. Mr Mason says one of the reasons it came together was the realisation that if they failed “our grandchildren will curse us”.

“It was a simple statement of who we were doing this for. So, we became the bus with 11 steering wheels and 11 brakes, trying for progress,” he says referring to the 11 original founders.

Birthday party

The party was kickstarted by comedian and performer Pio Terei: “It’s a formal occasion but I like to keep things funky. If you’re not funky, you will be by the time you leave here.”

NHC Trust chair Dame Tariana paid special tribute to former National Party leader and minister of finance Sir Bill: “Thank you Bill English, for enabling the setting up of National Hauora Coalition, thank you so much.”

Mr Mason also referred to early conversations with Sir Bill saying, “He asked what we wanted ‘and be careful what you wish for’.”

Mr Mason says NHC has become an organisation to be proud of “and has reached the point where credibility is due”.

Following speeches, guests gathered around two birthday cakes, iced in the NHC colours of blue, green and white, to sing “Tūtira mai ngā iwi”, before breaking for lunch and a lookaround the offices.

A garage in Avondale

High on chief executive Simon Royal’s list was celebrating the new office space.

“Many people won’t remember, but we started in a garage in Avondale.”

Many long meetings and long nights meant employing someone to feed and watch the kids while they played in the swimming pool, he laughs.

The new building is in Te Tōangaroa, Ngāti Whatua’s commercial precinct.

“In this space, we are not only more closely connected to mana whenua, but we also make a statement by contributing to a greater Māori presence in Auckland’s central business district.”

Lots to celebrate

During his address, Mr Royal purposely refrained from mentioning global pandemics, changes in government and health reforms, instead choosing to focus on the “kaupapa of the day”.

“The health and wealth of our whānau, the 10th birthday of the NHC, 20 years of our kaupapa and the success we have all had to date in putting whānau at the centre.”

“There’s lots to celebrate: we and other hauora Māori organisations are still here. We survived in the face of continuing institutional racism and inequity of resourcing.


Mr Royal acknowledges the work of the kaimahi at NHC, whose lived experiences in schools, communities, clinics, waka ama, on the netball courts is a critical ingredient in the organisation’s success.

“Our workers come directly out of the communities we seek to serve.”

While he celebrates the Crown’s acknowledging its failure to meet obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and for partially accepting interim recommendations made in the Hauora Report, it has not been able to solve the ongoing challenges for Māori.

As a result, the coalition will be embarking on an engagement strategy to further amplify the voice of whānau in its future work.

“We intend to use our capabilities in technology to capture whānau need, expectations and aspirations.”

“It’s still up to us, collectively as Māori to own our own future.”

Centre of innovation

NHC’s clinical director Rawiri McKree Jansen announced the opening of Te Turangawaewae Manahau a Tariana Tuira – The Tariana Turia Centre for Excellence, which is located in the new premises.

He says the centre will bring together research and academic rigour from across the sector to focus on the expectations and aspirations of whānau, and will be informed by whānau lived experience.

It will have at least three core functions:

  1. innovation, to drive improved health and social outcomes for whānau
  1. research to contribute to the pro-equity evidence base
  1. applied science, using the evidence base to achieve objectives.

“This is about authentic Māori-owned, Māori-led, Māori-governed space to stand, and this has been inspired and informed by a wahine toa, so we are privileged to name this after Tariana Turia,”

This article was originally written for by Zahra Shahtahmasebi and is published with permission.
Read the original article here

– Additional reporting by Alan Perrott

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