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The Community We Serve

Manaaki Matakāoa is a collaborative venture, we support our community to take charge of our own health destinies, with preventative approaches. We prioritise health literacy and have a strong focus on kotahitanga (community cohesion). Our success is not ours alone, every family who puts their hand up to be tested, to isolate, to design a hauora plan, to engage a health specialist or a hauora journey are a part of our collective success for our community wellbeing, and we are proud to serve this cause. 

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Matakāoa traditionally referred to a large peninsula in our region, which rests on the eastern fin of Te Ika a Māui (commonly termed the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand) however from the early 1900s it came into use to refer to the townships from Whāngaparāoa in the west, across to Whāngaokena (East Cape Island) and down to Whakaangiangi. While we still hold functional and familial relationships to Whāngaparāoa, the Manaaki Matakāoa service region extends from Pōtikirua in the west through to Whāngaokena, and down to Whakaangiangi. Our population is roughly 1800 during the year, which can swell to over 5000 during the summer with inter-regional and international tourists who all come to enjoy our beautiful beaches and "wild, remote" countryside. Our population is approximately 95% Māori and there are some 16 hapū within our boundaries.


Matakāoa has a long, proud history of resilience. In the days of our ancestors, it was a site of abundance, holding many healing springs, wetlands and gardens, and was the nest of leadership for our region - a sovereign nation that was self-sustaining and self-determining. Early explorers noted that the ancestors of our region were strong, healthy, and immaculate in presentation. With the arrival of colonization came numerous pandemics, and while these impacted on our ancestors heavily, we also stood up our own responses to these challenges to protect our community. This included setting up checkpoints to stop the entry of diseases, and donating land and marae for the establishment of hospitals.

We see our journey to wellness as one of reclamation - the restoration of a physical, mental, spiritual, cultural, environmental and collective level of wellbeing enjoyed by our ancestors.

Health & Social

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Damage to our local roading network and State Highway 35 (the only land access to Matakāoa) from Cyclone Hale 10/01/2023. Severe events that close the highway down occur 4-5 times a year

Our challenges

Matakāoa is described by emergency services as "the most remote land-based community in Aotearoa from health services". Our distance from a base hospital (Gisborne or Whakatāne) ranges from 3-5 hours. There are no paramedics, no pharmacies, and limited access to GPs. Our roads are in extremely poor condition, and we are disproportionately impacted by climate change, which makes travel, access to medicine and other health service provision extremely difficult and, numerous times throughout the year, impossible. 

Our journey through colonization has also introduced a wide range of social factors that impact upon the wellbeing of our community, one of the dominant social factors being housing, and housing related illnesses. 

Our Strengths

Our greatest asset are our people - we come from a long line of esteemed leaders, from our ancestors Hinerupe and Tūwhakairiora, to Tā Apirana Ngata, Dr Tūtere Wi Repa, Dr Paratene Ngata, and Dr Moana Jackson. Our own community has also been celebrated by the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards and by the National Hauora Coalition for courageous leadership in health, alongside our organisation. We are deeply connected to our lands and waters, which, for now, remain rich and abundant. Many of our local families still live subsistence lifestyles, in tune with the cycles of nature, and we retain a wealth of traditional knowledge on our histories, our traditional sciences, and our food systems. We are closely connected, which has allowed us to take a unique and effective approach to combatting misinformation and disinformation. Our isolation, and the challenges it has brought, has bred a strength, resilience and spirit of innovation within our community that continues to see us through challenges. Our elders, our children, and our ancestry and collective identity are all our greatest strengths

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