WDHB appoints new Director Maori Health

25 October 2013

Newly-appointed WDHB director Maori Health Rowena Kui
Well known Whanganui health professional Rowena Kui of Te Ati Āwa descent has been named the Whanganui District Health Board’s (WDHB) new director Maori Health.
When making the announcement this week, WDHB chief executive Julie Patterson said she was delighted Mrs Kui had put herself forward for the role for which she was well qualified.
Following the resignation of former director Maori Health Gilbert Taurua in May this year, Mrs Kui stepped into the position of interim director which allowed her to appreciate the complexity of the role and why it is such a pivotal part of Whanganui’s effort to improve the health and wellbeing of Maori.
During her 20-year career as a qualified nurse, midwife and health services manager living and working in the Waimarino, Mrs Kui forged close bonds with Whanganui Maori, the district’s rural communities and health service providers.
She and her husband Keith raised their three children in Raetihi before moving to Whanganui in 1996 where Mrs Kui was appointed Manager Maternity Services Good Health Wanganui and later, Wanganui Hospital’s Service Manager Medical and Clinical Support. 
In 1999 Mrs Kui was appointed Clinical Contracts Manager to the Maori development organisation Taumata Hauora Trust before returning to the WDHB in 2003 to join the Service and Business Planning team as Manager Population, Health and Inequalities.
It was during this time, that Mrs Kui was singled out by the Ministry of Health for outstanding leadership in the initiation of the introduction of whānau ora (family-centred health and well being) to the DHB setting. Mrs Kui says she’s delighted to see the whānau ora way of thinking and working with families becoming embedded in the way health professionals work across DHB services.
This will be a key focus for her along with increasing the district’s Maori health workforces; increasing the capacity of the Wanganui Hospital Maori health services team; overseeing the refurbishment of Mauri Ora (Wanganui Hospital’s family-based accommodation); and working closely with Maori health service providers, the Whanganui Regional Health Network and other community providers.
“It’s all about supporting and enabling health professionals to become more responsive to Maori whānau,” Mrs Kui says. “Having said that, I’m a strong believer that if whānau ora supports Maori well, our whole community will benefit. I’m sure vulnerable families no matter what their ethnicity, will benefit hugely from the whānau ora way of working and supporting the health and wellbeing of our residents.”
During her time as interim director, Mrs Kui began the process of implementing recommendations from the recent WDHB Maori Health Strategy Huarahi Oranga review which includes seeing five cultural support workers move from their current roles within the WDHB’s hospital services to join the Maori Health team.
Mrs Kui says she looks forward to working closely with the WDHB’s Kaumatua and iwi Maori relationship board Hauora a Iwi who like herself, are very focused on accelerating improvements in Maori health and reducing inequalities.