Strength in Numbers
The Aere Tai Pacific Midland Collective is an organisation ahead of its time. In an increasingly competitive environment, its group of Pacific health, education, community and social services providers scattered across the vast Midlands region have been working together to ensure the benefits of collaboration are shared.
“We were discussing integration of services and contracting with one provider rather than multi providers back in 2012,” says Leaupepe Peta Karalus, CEO of the Collective and of K’aute Pasifika Trust, the lead provider in Hamilton.
“Before the Ministry of Health started driving it, we had already established joint contracts with SWPICS (South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services based in Tokoroa), including one on smoking cessation,” says Peta.
“We realised that helping support other Pacific Providers in our region was the best way to sustain and grow the services we are all providing, which is basically service for Pacific by Pacific. On a national level, we’ve led the way in that regard.”
The Aere Tai Midlands region includes two of New Zealand’s fastest growing cities – Tauranga and Hamilton. It encompasses towns and cities such as Tokoroa, Napier and Rotorua which have had generations of Pacific people, to the likes of New Plymouth, a small but growing population as well as Gisborne which, like Tauranga, has experienced a growth of Pacific people due to the seasonal horticultural work.
Peta describes the Midlands region as rural because even its largest cities – namely Hamilton and Tauranga - have experienced growth due to the rural economy. And while it lacks the sheer numbers of Pacific people that live in neighbouring Auckland, Peta says the need to upskill staff working for the Aere Tai Collective is stronger than ever.
“I know the staff across the region are well qualified, and we’ve established that the collaborative way is the best way because it raises our capacity and capability to deliver the services for our people,” says Peta.
“We now know what each other does, have come to know what works and what doesn’t, and how we can help each other to secure projects that will benefit our people.”
Born in Samoa – she holds the chiefly title of Leaupepe from the village of Fasitoouta – Peta is highly regarded in the Waikato health scene having served on the Waikato District Health Board for many years, as well as the Health Waikato Advisory Committee; the Community Public Health Committee and as Chair of the Disability Support Advisory Committee where she showed wisdom and sensitivity in dealing with disability groups such as AgeWise and Disability Support Link.
She is a registered nurse with a Masters Degree in Health Policy and has also taught at Wintec.
Married to Dr Noel Karalus, the couple have nine children and xxx grandchildren.
She says maintaining and fostering those relationships with key mainstream health organisations is vital in ensuring that knowledge goes to the providers, whose staff can then implement it directly and effectively to their respective Pacific communities.
“Helping support Pacific providers throughout the region will not only sustain but grow the Collective’s services we provide.”
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