The Whanau Ora model has proved to be successful for one Tikipunga health clinic that has gained 100 new patients per month.

Whanau Ora is a cross-government work programme implemented by the Ministry of Health, Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry of Social Development that's starting to have success in Whangarei and the rest of the region, with Maori families particularly benefiting.

Dr Aniva Lawrence, a GP at Te Whareora O Tikipunga, said focusing on whanau as a whole, rather than individuals, was working well for the clinic.

"We're gaining about 100 new patients per month," she said.


"A lot of it is word of mouth, some people are changing clinics and for some it's the closest Whanau Ora clinic with an open roll."

The clinic's roll is 78 per cent Maori, 10 per cent Pasifika and 12 per cent non-Maori. Dr Lawrence said a whanau-focus was vital.

"We have whanau rooms in our clinic for group work rather than the individual approach so we can consult whole whanau rather than a single person.

"We have walking groups and cultural activities run out of the clinic - we want it to be looked at as a hub rather than just a medical centre."

Johnny Seve, kaimahi (worker) for Ngati Hau Health and Social Services, said for the whanau he worked with it was about showing he cared.

"Often when I first speak to these families they're not going to be talking about the big issues. They don't just say 'hey look he's got a gambling problem', you start talking and building a relationship and then they divulge a bit more."

A 2012 survey of Ngati Hau Health and Social Services users found 81 per cent of respondents totally agreed that they valued the service because it was hapu-based and whanau-led, while none were dissatisfied with any aspect of the service.

Mr Seve said an important part of Whanau Ora was building relationships. Dictating did not work.


"I don't think you can force wellness on to people. They have to want to embrace it and that's a big part of what I do, ensuring they have autonomy over their decisions."

Dr Lawrence and Mr Seve both said one important aspect of Whanau Ora is building greater cross-sector collaboration.

"We couldn't do what we do without the relationship we have with other services. That collective approach opposed to an individual approach is so important because everyone has different areas of expertise," said Dr Lawrence.