A series of 'living well' programmes have been established to improve the health of Western Bay of Plenty people in hard-to-reach communities.
Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive officer Roger Taylor said the programmes aimed to improve people's access to healthcare and to help them to manage their own health more effectively.
"We're helping people change their lifestyles to improve their long-term health and well-being," he said.
Starting this month, the organisation is backing the Pacific Island Community (Tauranga) Trust with $55,000 for project called It Starts With Us.
This will arm local Pacific Island people with the skills and knowledge to be more active physically and to eat more healthily, reducing the risks associated with obesity.
Trust chief executive officer Delwyn Walker said the initiative will initially include physical programmes for 15 people of various ages over three months, followed by another 15 people every quarter.
The programme will draw on the natural environment for exercise, using walking tracks at Mauao, Otanewainuku, Papamoa Hills and Waikareao. It will also use venues including the Tauranga Aquatic Centre's Baywave and Greerton pools, and a gymnasium that allows access to a commercial kitchen for classes encouraging healthier eating. There will also be a focus on education, with regular monitoring and health-progress checks by a registered nurse who will be overseeing the programme.
"The key message is eating better in combination with more physical exercise.
"The ultimate goal is for this message to spread through the community. It's exciting for us to see our people becoming more active."
Between 9000 to 13,000 Pacific Islanders were estimated to live in Tauranga and the Western Bay as of 2013, with the population growing strongly in Katikati and Te Puke.
The programme is expected to have long-term benefits for the wider community by reducing the need for health interventions for diabetes and heart disease.
Also this month, the organisations spending $3500 to buy 200 to 300 pedometers for the Farm St Health Centre as part of a strategy to encourage people to walk 10,000 steps a day.
Next month, it will fund a $45,000 mental health programme through the Waipu Hauora.
The goal is to grow strong, healthy whanau who are able to make better decisions, with more confidence. Late last year, the organisation bought a $29,000 van for Ngati Kahu Hauora to provide transport for people who have difficulty attending medical services.
Western Bay of Plenty Public Health Organisation "Living Well" programmes:
• "It Starts With Us" exercise/eating programme for Pacific Islanders
• Mental health programme through Waipu Hauora
• 200-300 pedometers for the Farm St Health Centre
• Health-related transport for Ngati Kahu Hauora
• A mental health initiative yet to be announced