Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

One-stop-shop for medical care in South Waikato a hit with local Pasifika

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John Utanga | Senior Journalist

Tokoroa’s ‘Hauora Day’ health event helps improve access to health care albeit just for one day.

On a warm and balmy South Waikato day, health service providers and agencies are set up outside of Tokoroa hospital as many locals take the opportunity to get free health checks.

And pulling all the services together on the day is the team from the South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services Trust (SWPICS).

“Children are able to come here, get their teeth checked, get referrals made to go and see proper dentists,” says SWPICS staff member Tere Ford.

“We’ve also got bowel screening which is amazing for our community because we want to be able to offer these kinds of services to our community, for people who probably haven’t been to the doctors for a very long time.”

And the services on offer are a welcome addition for locals present.

“It was all good, so I’m not in the danger zone of having diabetes just as of yet” says one woman, after getting a blood test done.

“At my age now, like if I don’t get on top of my health and my fitness, it’s actually going to affect my life and that’s the last thing I need,” says one man.

Tokoroa has a thriving Pacific Islands community, many of whom are the descendants of pioneering Pacific islands workers who flocked to the South Waikato in search of jobs in the forestry industry.

SWPICS was formed in the early 1990s to provide social service support for that growing Pacific community here and while its service has ebbed and flowed over the years, it really came into its own during the Covid-19 Pandemic, providing valuable support to a community on the outer edges of the regional health system.

“So, we provide services from nought to six, which is predominantly our well-child service,” says CEO Akarere Henry.

“We go right through to primary school into secondary school, into the young people within the wider community. We deliver programs specifically for 25- to 35-year-olds and then, of course, anything over 50, and we have a whole raft of different services.”

SWPICS runs regular health checks from its Tokoroa base for individual health issues, this time they’re combining several specialities in the one ‘Hauora Day’ and holding it at the local hospital creating a one-stop-shop should any of the health checks require immediate intervention from doctors and hospital staff.

“One of the inequities we have here in our community is access.” Henry says.

“And so. just the ability to be able to obtain things, even if they are elective surgeries, you know, some minor procedures are still quite daunting because the waiting lists are quite long.”

And on the day, that one-stop-shop proves its worth.

“It’s been wonderful, we’ve had some really awesome people come through, get their eyes checked,” says Tere Ford.

“One person in particular, just found out that her entire right side of her eye, she couldn’t even see out of it; she didn’t even realise and so we were able to take her from the eye-check and take her down the corridor to the out-patient to be able to be seen by an eye surgeon.”

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