An initiative has been launched to help Maori think about health checks differently.

The first free health-check clinic took place yesterday at the Taurua marae in Rotoiti.

It was brought to the community by Ngati Pikiao Health Services in collaboration with Korowai Aroha and the Rotorua Area Public Health Services (RAPHS).

Ms Puamiria Maaka, health services manager for Ngati Pikiao Health Services, said the morning was awesome.


"Clusters of families came along. It was a nice opportunity to help the whole family. We had wives encouraging husbands and vice versa."

Husband and wife, Wayne and Te Pae Fitzell, got the full health check.

Mrs Fitzell said she thought the health checks were important.

"It's good to have easy access for the whanau, especially in places like Rotoiti where it's hard to get into town."

Mr Fitzell said he thought it was good the organisations were helping the community and reaching out to people.

The plan is to visit a different Ngati Pikiao marae each month. Anyone is welcome.

Ms Maaka said the original idea came from trying to find a way to get women to have their cervical smears.

As this can be an off-putting medical check, the group decided to promote an entire barrage of health checks.


"These health checks are preventative. We are wanting to catch things before they happen. We want the community to have choice, be informed, and the burden on the health budget to be reduced," Ms Maaka said.

The initiative is focusing on checks for health issues affecting Maori such as diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure and respiratory illnesses.

For children, checks were offered for ears, nose and throat. There were also mirimiri (massages) available.

Ms Maaka said they were wanting to change mindsets, by going into a space where people felt comfortable.

"We are hoping to catch people early, help them change their lifestyle."

At each health check site there will always be a GP or nurse practitioner able to issue scripts.

In the run up to the event people in the local area were made aware of the initiative through radio and flyers.

"It was an opportunity to talk with other providers, and be supportive of each other. It was a great first-of-its-kind," said Mrs Maaka.

She said there will be a meeting this week to discuss improvements and figure out which marae will be visited next.

"This is the very beginning. We are trying to get Maori in particular to think about health differently. We are hoping that as we go from marae to marae our reputation will spread."