Ana Apatu says "it's time" for her to serve on the Hawke's Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) thanks to a career straddling health and social work.
"I have had a passion for health many years and it just carries on," she said.
Originally a nurse she moved into public health "supporting wellness within communities".
"That passion has stayed with me over the years. I have carried national roles, senior roles and I also have a grassroots perspective."
She is chief executive of the U-Turn Trust, which supports the wellbeing of Flaxmere families and is based at Te Aranga Marae in Flaxmere. Her previous role was senior population health adviser for the HBDHB.
She is a member of the HBDHB Maori Relationship Board and chairs primary healthcare service Directions Youth Health Centre and the Hawke's Bay Youth Health Trust.
"I think I am quite fortunate at the moment to be centred in Flaxmere, learning from families and the community, but if you want to make a big-picture difference you need to be at a strategic level."
She said because the HBDHB was the region's biggest employer and had a half billion-dollar budget it was influential in the Hawke's Bay community in its own right, even before making strategic health decisions.
She said the HBDHB could not act alone for community health outcomes. "Working in partnership is critical because sometimes the factors that impact on wellness lie outside the sector, eg, housing, education and employment.
"I am keen to see resources reach the people who need it the most. If people are healthy they are productive, which is a great incentive to have people well.
As a region Hawke's Bay has huge potential to be healthy and prosperous. To achieve this, we need to forge strong partnerships within the health sector and externally."