Tariana Turia combined her duties as Maori Party co-leader and Disability Issues Minister yesterday when she said it was wrong that family members were not paid to act as caregivers when the state happily paid strangers to do the same work.

She made her comment at the opening of a new West Auckland home for whanau who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, Waimarie Trust, whose patron is former All Black captain Buck Shelford.

"We have a lot of families who take care of their own at huge expense and stress," Mrs Turia said.

The Ministry of Health always used "the excuse" that it did not want families to regard that sort of care as income, she said.


"It's a spurious argument because they don't mind somebody else doing it. I feel outraged that they're prepared to take advantage of family members by using these arguments that don't wash."

Waimarie House is a partnership between the What Ever It Takes Trust and Housing New Zealand. The project is led by trust director Charmeyne Te Nana-Williams, whose husband, super-heavyweight New Zealand boxing champion Peter Williams, became a tetraplegic in 2002 after an injury in the ring.

The home will support three clients and their families and uses a Whanau Ora approach where health services are targeted at the individual as well as their whanau.

In practical terms Waimarie is about helping people to live their lives as independently as possible, with individuals and their families choosing how to get themselves back into the swing of life. Buck Shelford said he hoped its model of care would be repeated around the country. Yvonne Tahana