Rotorua's Cantabria Lifecare and Village says it will be the first in New Zealand to pioneer a kaupapa Māori strategy in aged care that launched this week.
The strategy, which officially launched on Thursday, was developed by Cantabria support services manager Mariana Morrison, who also chose the Rotorua site to pilot the project.
"Rotorua's the first bicultural city in the whole of the country so, why not?" Morrison told the Rotorua Daily Post.
"I whakapapa here and we are the largest site in New Zealand so [it made sense]."
It comes as the sector moves to implement the 2021 Ngā Paerewa Health and disability services standard, which came into effect on February 28.
The Ngā Paerewa standard called for service providers in the health and disability sector to care for people in a way that respects people's rights and upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The new standard aimed to respond to the growing need for culturally appropriate aged care as Ministry of Health statistics show older Māori have poorer health and often are more likely to suffer from chronic illness.
Morrison believes the strategy being embedded in the work of Cantabria's staff is "not just ticking a box".
"What we are doing here is groundbreaking," Morrison said.
"The significance of this kaupapa is that we are leading the new legislative sector standards.
"Culture change takes time, but we are actually doing it, working from the inside out."
Morrison's strategy aims to provide career development opportunities for Māori wanting to work in aged care, provide bicultural training for staff and work with educators and the new Māori health partnership boards.
"We are taking the strategy from signage to making it work," she said.
"It is about all people being able to work in a te ao Māori context. We want to make kaupapa Māori part of the day-to-day running of aged care."
Morrison said she would know the strategy had succeeded when culturally appropriate services eliminated the barriers between Māori and healthcare.
"Māori service users don't engage with non-Māori service providers because it is a Western framework.
"[This strategy means] instead of being told how we should be supported, we are part of the collaborative process and that is phenomenal."
Rotorua Primary School principal Fred Whata said its staff and pupils would be supporting the strategy through performances, korero and a reading programme.
Whata said a cheerleading squad made up of Cantabria residents was also in the works to support Rotorua Primary School's basketball teams.
Whata said the partnership between his school and Cantabria would be beneficial to young people and Cantabria residents.
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The strategy was launched at Cantabria with the opening of a new bicultural room at the village called Te Ohaki.
"Te Ohaki is not for one culture, not for two cultures but every culture," Cantabria chief executive Norah Barlow said.
"It is a place for everyone to have time with their friends and whānau and celebrate their lives."
Barlow said it was special to be able to launch the strategy and open the cultural room on the first national celebration of Matariki as a public holiday.