Hawke's Bay is winning the battle to get Maori women to have three-yearly cervical screening checks, recent figures show.
The region had the best figures among the 20 district health boards in the most recent quarterly report of three-year cervical screening coverage.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board Kaiwhakahaere Maori Co-ordinator Sandra Corbett said 73.4 per cent of Maori women in the province were now engaged with screening every three years.
While this was still below the 80 per cent national target for all ethnic groups, Mrs Corbett said it was a pleasing result, especially as it was the first time Hawke's Bay had led the DHBs.
"With a smear every three years these women are giving us a real chance of picking up changes and getting these treated," she said.
"This is reducing the number of Hawke's Bay women who may develop cervical cancer. Our next goal is to reach the 80 per cent national target for all ethnicities."
Mrs Corbett said the improvement in Hawke's Bay, which has one of the highest percentages of Maori population per total population in New Zealand, was due to the focus placed on improving screening services for Maori women by the whole health sector, including in primary care and out in the community.
"Health Hawke's Bay (PHO), Maori providers, the DHB and other stakeholders work closely together," she said.
"We have targeted strategies and initiatives to encourage unscreened women to have their cervical smears.
"With the help of sponsors like Pak'nSave Hastings, for example, the PHO has been able to run promotions which have encouraged Maori women to have a smear.
"Hauora and general practices are also going the extra mile for our women, which is fantastic. It's proved that if you focus where the greatest inequities are, you can make progress. We've done it right across the sector with co-ordinated campaigns."
Mrs Corbett said last year's Taku Wahine Purotu campaign, launched at the Waitangi Day celebrations, is one initiative that is still giving back, with screening champions continuing to work in their communities to encourage women to have their cervical smears.
"Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi.
"This whakatauki continually reminds us that through the pooling together of different skills, strengths and resources, all our goals are achievable. It reflects important Maori values."
Maori, Pacific Island and Asian women over the age of 30, who have not had a smear in the past five years, are deemed to be the most at risk of developing cervical cancer. Screening is free for women of these ethnicities between the ages of 20 and 69. Women over 30 with no smear history, and women who have not had a smear in the last five years, can also access free screening.
Appointments can be made through general practitioners.