Sharon Shea says she is proud and honoured to be named as the first permanent Māori board chairperson of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, calling it an important signpost for the community.
Health Minister Andrew Little confirmed Shea's appointment on Tuesday, along with those of deputy chairman Geoff Esterman and new board member Wayne Williams.
The appointments are effective for the period April 13, 2021, to December 5, 2022.
"It's a privilege to be appointed the permanent chair and I am totally committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone in the Bay is improved," Shea said.
"I feel honoured to bring a tangata whenua perspective to the board's leadership and to support the whole community. I believe that being the first Māori chair is an important signpost for our community in terms of working in partnership to benefit the greater good.
"As a child born at Tauranga Hospital, and then as a young woman at Tauranga Girls', I could not have foreseen this leadership opportunity and am very grateful for the opportunity to give back to our community and contribute to building a better Aotearoa."
Shea has strong whānau and whakapapa connections to the Bay of Plenty. She is originally from Te Puna - her iwi are Ngāti Ranginui and Ngaiterangi and her hapū is Pirirakau – and her family is the Borrell and Tangitu family, well known in the Tauranga area.
Growing up in Mount Maunganui, she attended Omanu Primary School, Mount Intermediate and Tauranga Girls' College before leaving for Auckland University. She gained a BA-LLB (Bachelor of Arts-Bachelor of Legislative Law) from Auckland and then studied Comparative Social Policy at Oxford University, topping her class in achieving a first-class honours degree.
Shea is an experienced governor and has been acting chair of the district health board since March 2020, when Sir Michael Cullen stepped down due to health reasons.
She has worked in the health sector for nearly 25 years and has held senior management roles at various levels in the health system. She owns and runs several companies, as well as sitting on a number of boards.
Shea said the Covid-19 response, achieving health equity, and good financial stewardship, were high on the board's agenda.
"In particular, our board is dedicated to keeping people in the Bay safe from Covid-19 and improving health equity for those in our community, that need support the most.
"We are a board that are serious about being responsible financial stewards of the health system and we are working hard to ensure investment into frontline services is prioritised."
BOP Māori Health Rūnanga chairwoman Linda Steel congratulated Shea on her appointment.
"Te Rūnanga Hauora Māori o Te Moana a Toi congratulate Sharon Shea in her appointment. Sharon's leadership is exemplary of the many skill sets she brings to the table and as a highly skilled wahine Māori as the figurehead for both the BOPDHB Board and its Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner, Te Rūnanga, we are extremely proud of the minister's appointment."
Esterman is a GP and owner of the Gate Pa Medical Centre, a practice in a low-mid-decile area of Tauranga. In his role he has enabled accessible quality whānau-based healthcare for up to four generations of patients over the past 29 years.
He is on his third term as an elected member of the BOPDHB and said he was "honoured by and enthusiastic about the opportunity" represented by being named deputy chairman.
"I believe having a clinician as deputy chair, and someone who understands well how community services and particularly general practice operates, will increase the opportunity for the BOPDHB to increase its emphasis on working more 'upstream'," he said.
"This will help continue the work on breaking down some of the silos that occur in the system. I think it is also important from a quality-of-care perspective. I would also like to thank Ron [Scott] for the work he has completed previously in this role and in particular for the education in governance he has given me."
Shea also extended a welcome to new board member Wayne Williams, who she said "brings significant financial experience" with him to the table.
Williams has substantial leadership and financial management experience from the professional, corporate and government sectors, including relationships with boards, finance audit risk committees and chief executives.
He is a director of the Moko Foundation, an organisation that supports and empowers communities with a focus on vulnerable children and young people.