Representation from Northland's disabled Māori community will be a priority for the Northland District Health Board's Equity in the Community committee going forward.

In what was the first meeting of the committee since September, committee chairwoman Ngaire Rae concluded discussion in yesterday's meeting concerning increasing the committee's community voices by suggesting additions to its nine-person membership.

"If this committee is in agreement then I think it would be useful to seek another at least one or two members with a priority on Māori people with disabilities," Rae said.

Prior to Rae's comment, committee member Sally Macauley recognised the importance of community voices and advocated for more to be added, specifically referring to Māori.

Former NDHB chairwoman Sally Macauley (left). Photo / File
Former NDHB chairwoman Sally Macauley (left). Photo / File

Committee member Carol Peters added to the idea, suggesting further connections could be made between the committee and Northlanders struggling with cancer.

The Equity in the Community committee, advised NDHB board on the health needs of Northlanders, including disability supports needs, and any factors it believed adversely affected the overall health status of the population.

On the committee is Rae (chairwoman), John Bain, Harry Burkhardt, Kyle Eggleton, Libby Jones, Sally Macauley, Peters, Beryl Wilkinson and Jonny Wilkinson.

However, the number of people at yesterday's meeting had almost doubled partly due to the attendance of DHB board members Vince Cocurullo, Dr Mataroria Lyndon and NDHB chief executive Nick Chamberlain.

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Speaking after the meeting, Rae said the committee's only two community voices - Beryl Wilkinson and Jonny Wilkinson - should be added to.

"There's nobody on this committee who is Māori and disabled, and I think that they would definitely have a unique and valuable viewpoint."

Rae, also the Mahitahi Hauora wellbeing health promotion lead, said while she was unsure how more committee members could be added, she hoped it could be confirmed before the next meeting in September.


Macauley, a former NDHB chairwoman, said the committee would suffer without community voices from across the region.

"This is a very significant committee and we talk about the community and we need the input from the community and not just Whangārei."

Northland District Health Board chairman Harry Burkhardt wants to hear more community voices around DHB committee tables. Photo / Supplied
Northland District Health Board chairman Harry Burkhardt wants to hear more community voices around DHB committee tables. Photo / Supplied

Committee member and NDHB board chairman Harry Burkhardt called for further inclusivity on such committees and felt any member of the public should be able to contribute.

"My sense is that these tables need to be inclusive, they need to have people who can bring more community voices in whether it's the Jonnys or Beryls or [from] commercial," he said.

"We only know what we know, so the more we understand around how our communities are going, [the better]."

While acknowledging the strong ties existing committee members had with their communities, Burkhardt said further inclusivity would give the public greater ownership of their healthcare and would reduce the perception that the healthcare of the masses was controlled by the few.