Recognition of Kaiāwhina workforce

There is a growing number of unregistered Māori workforce (such as Kaiāwhina and navigators) who provide significant value to the services they work in and for the whaiora who access those services. The expectations and renumeration for these positions varies hugely, as does the support and training available. 

- Build greater recognition of the expertise that these positions bring into salary scales

- Identify opportunities for career progression that do not necessarily rely on degree level qualifications

- Consider opportunities to build the capacity of this workforce as well as registered positions

- Offer training and development opportunities (relevant to Māori) for people in these roles

- Build expectations of "mainstream" employees (i.e. hospitals) who frequently employ into these positions, of cultural support  

Why the contribution is important

This is a growing workforce, which as "unregistered" has very little protection

Expertise in Te Ao Māori is essential to provide services to Māori, but is often undervalued in comparison with western style university learning 

There is wide variation both within districts and nationally

by tracymurphy on October 26, 2022 at 02:43PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.7
Based on: 19 votes


  • Posted by aliciascott October 26, 2022 at 14:56

    Tautoko Tracy's comments and want to add
    - recognition, value and grow this workforce with a particular focus on support in rural areas
    - opportunities to grow and develop this workforce without having to 'leave home' to complete training
  • Posted by Graeme October 26, 2022 at 19:12

    What's been suggested so far sounds good to me, but I have some questions ...

    How do the Kaiāwhina being referred to here differ from Health Care Assistants (HCAs)? I thought that HCAs are type of Kaiāwhina, but the initial "idea" here seems to suggest that only Māori are Kaiāwhina which differs from what I have been previously taught (by Māori).

    If Kaiāwhina and HCAs are different, should they be treated differently or the same?
  • Posted by jennyk October 27, 2022 at 11:56

    I fully support this and, like Graeme think it could be extended to the traditionally unsupported and, I suspect, largely female, volunteer or low-paid, community based and working "in-place" workforce ( informal social workers/key-workers/ system navigators/ HCAs/ Kaiāwhina). Especially so for Kaiāwhina.
    Community-based workforce issues have always been secondary to the high demand , highly politically visible and more measurable focus of the health system on Hospital-based care at the expense of prevention, support , navigation and early intervention which reduce demand at hospital and improve the experience of whaiora and whānau. The issues are also about:
     - gender pay inequity
    - community based training and pay inequity
    - Māori and Pasifika training and pay inequity

    How can we balance out these workforce demands?
  • Posted by tracymurphy October 27, 2022 at 15:34

    Really great comments, thank you.
    Graeme - Kaiāwhina can be non-Māori, and we do use the term for the HCA workforce inside the hospital, however you're completely right that I was referring to Māori designated positions. I think this may be part of the problem that I'm aiming to describe re: variation. We also have designated positions who provide cultural expertise for particular teams such as oral health. A part of the issue is that they aren't managed by a Māori health team, so additional care is required to ensure culturally safe working environments.
  • Posted by jude2305 October 28, 2022 at 13:57

    this is a vital part of the way Aotearoa needs to progress in health. All too often this is a workforce undervalued and under developed. there should be a career development programme for this workforce, nationally recognised and resourced and a clear career framework for these roles. there are currently real barriers to extending these roles in the health sector, a degree of protection by others and also fear of development due to mis trust. there are not clear guidelines on the areas where these roles could be expanded and developed and be of greatest use.
  • Posted by MariaBaker October 30, 2022 at 08:17

    • There is Māori confidence and motivation to create new and innovative roles and professions with Māori Workforces who can operate across diverse settings. We have observed this with the diverse, growing Māori Workforces across health and social care settings e.g. Whānau Ora navigators, Māori Lived Experienced workforces, Whānau Support workers, Matauranga Māori healers, Kaumatua & Kuia, Cultural specialists and so forth.
    • Māori want to ensure that their communities have easy access to holistic health and social care services informed by Matauranga Māori in proportion to their needs, & and achieve equitable health outcomes.
    We are seeing the increased interest by workforces in qualifications and learning opportunities that are embedded in Te Ao Māori.
    • Māori recognise the importance of growing the current workforce to meet the current demands; however, what must be realised is that Māori aspire for the recognition of Māori workforce approaches and solutions to meet future demands that are led by and supported by Māori .
  • Posted by Leamark November 03, 2022 at 09:06

    The use of Kaiāwhina in primary care could be revolutionary
    Currently, funding for immunisations and screening is based upon success with the low hanging fruit. those who are poorly engaged for a myriad of reasons are very time consuming with a very limited primary care workforce.
    Having Kaiāwhina take on this important role, to both contact those that need more input and if necessary, being present, hand holding, support in any way so that individual of that whanau's experience is more positive could be amazing
    Rather than create a new system, let's support general practice to work better
  • Posted by Graeme November 04, 2022 at 12:16

    If there was a "thumbs-up" button, I'd be clicking it for what @Leamark wrote.
  • Posted by tracymurphy November 09, 2022 at 07:57

    Agree Graeme, would 100% be giving thumbs up on all these comments.
  • Posted by cbarry November 17, 2022 at 13:58

    More recognition of the Kaiāwhina workforce is imperative to move forward. Valuing, supporting, and developing their training is key along with building capacity. Thank you to tracymurphy for stating this, and others for supporting these important concepts.
    As part of opportunities for change could Kaiāwhina have nationally applied guidelines for sectors ( i.e., Homecare ) to add recognition of their skills and apply more deserved value to their important roles?

    We don't have enough nurses and we have an underutilized and growing Kaiāwhina workforce. Enabling acknowledgment of and enhancing their skill set and social value would greatly add to our healthcare system.
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