Tipu Ora emerged from the kaupapa of tipuna at the turn of the century and the founder of the Women’s Health League, Nurse Robina T Cameron. Upon her arrival in Rotorua in the early 1930s, Nurse Cameron was confronted by high Māori infant and maternal mortality rates, as well as an alarming prevalence of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. She identified the need for a maternal infant care programme specifically designed for Māori.
With assistance of Te Arawa leaders she organised local health committees primarily to bring Pākehā understandings of hygiene into Māori homes. She instructed mothers in the care of children, food values, prevention of disease and care of the home. These committees, comprising mainly of Māori women, formed the Women’s Health League in September 1937.
A survey conducted in Te Arawa in 1990, in which over 200 Maori families were interviewed, indicated the need for an alternative Māori primary health care programme. Such a programme is necessary today to help overcome the high Māori infant morbidity rates, characterised by high incidences of respiratory diseases, low birth weight babies and cot deaths. (ref Tipu Ora Resource Kit, Te Puni Kokiri 1994).
Tipu Ora Charitable Trust
From the results of the survey and successful formula of Nurse Robina Cameron decades before, Inez Kingi President of the Women’s Health League and Papakura General Practitioner Dr Jacqueline Alan co-founded and designed the Tipu Ora Māori Child and Mother Service and in 1990 secured funding for a pilot programme.
The kaupapa of the programme was to promote and protect the health and well being of tamariki Māori so that in the future they would be able to pursue a range of socio-economic and cultural opportunities available to reach their full potential. The programme would use grandmothers Kaitiaki, a ‘guardian or protector’ from the local community with various backgrounds in health, education, welfare and marae activity, to deliver health education and to support the immunisation process for tamariki until school age.
Tipu Ora decided to invest in education, prevention and intervention rather than investing in remedy, reform and rehabilitation. Key to the success of Tipu Ora today has been the stewardship provided by Māori leaders from within Te Arawa and the Women’s Health League who clearly recognised the centrality of Māori identity to Māori wellness. As a result of the success of the initial 12 month pilot programme in 1991 Tipu Ora Charitable Trust was established.
The purpose of Tipu Ora is to address the health and well being needs of children, their whānau and their extended whānau. The first Māori child and whānau centred health service delivered by Māori, for Māori, utilising Māori methods of delivery and assessment. In designing the programme, Tipu Ora recognised that the challenge was to develop an appropriate model that was wellness rather than sickness based and also delivered with culturally appropriate methods. Tipu Ora has grown from a strong kaupapa of whānau ora to be one of the largest Māori providers in the Lakes District Health Board region.
Manaaki Ora Trust
Tipu Ora Charitable Trust and Te Utuhina Manaakitanga Trust organisations amalgamated on the 1st July 2013 and operate under the board of trustees of Manaaki Ora Trust. The amalgamation of the two organisations enables both to continue their growth within the Rotorua community as well as nationally.