It hasn't all been plain sailing for the Ahipara Health and Resource Centre (AHRC) since it was established by three local women in 1996, with the exclusive aim of meeting the health needs of the local community and surrounding districts.
By 2002 the centre was routinely engaged with more than 800 clients, including 222 children, but with the introduction of new staff and a new management structure in 2006 when the name changed to the Ahipara Health and Resource Trust, the community noticed a decline in services, with a rapid decline becoming more evident as time went by.
In June last year the Ahipara community contacted the Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman, who advised Roma Marae that the Northland District Health Board and Te Hiku Hauora were in negotiations to "achieve a sustainable outcome that will improve service access and quality for people in the Ahipara community".
In September, however, the trust closed its doors with no explanation, heightening community concerns regarding a lack of transparency and accountability.
"The service has certainly been through some troubled times in recent years," Roma Marae chairman John Paitai said.
"However, we are encouraged by the Minister's commitment to hearing our voice and assisting us to bring about improvement to our local health services."
Kaitaia-based Te Hiku Hauora was currently charged with delivering services at Ahipara, and was committed to ensuring essential services were maintained.
Meanwhile marae representatives met with the DHB and Te Hiku Hauora in December. DHB representative Margareth Broodkorn said the hui provided an opportunity for a robust, honest exchange of perspectives, and acknowledged that the transition could have been handled better.
"Accountability is an important on-going issue, which will need further exploration.
"In the meantime we are very excited to be helping to establish an agency-stakeholder coalition that will strengthen community well-being," she said.
The DHB and marae representatives now look forward to joining with other community stakeholders early this year to continue the dialogue.