A hapū within Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is blazing the trail to ensure that cost is not a barrier to good health.

Hapū spokesperson Renata Blair says Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is offering its people free private health insurance that covers a range of services from GP visits, surgery and dental care.

“Mai i ngā tamariki tae noa atu ki ngā kaumātua, he whakaroaroa o rātou nā nohonga ki te papa o te whenua.”

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei announced this week a deal with NIB New Zealand to provide free universal private health insurance for all members of the hapū.

Blair says it’ll cover surgical and medical hospitalisation, GP visits, dental, physiotherapy and optical costs.

“Ko te tirohanga kei mua ko te orange, te whakakīkī i te paepae, i te whrae, me ngā katakata i te marae, me te koakoa o ō tātou nei kaumātua - he whakamāmā i ērā o ngā mamaetanga o te māuiui, nē.”

The scheme is for NZ-based registered members only, specifically descendants of Tuperiri. But they hope to eventually roll it out to the wider iwi.

“Koirā tō mātou nei hapū, he tīmatatanga tēnei. Tērā pea (ka puta atu ki a) Ngāti Whātua nui tonu, ā, ko rātou nā ngā mahi mō tēnā.”

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei kaumātua, and arthritis sufferer, Temepara Morehu is looking forward to utilising the insurance to continue seeking medical advice.

“It would be really nice to not have to take painkillers, you know, if you could come with a cure. It’s like everything else of that nature, cancer and all those things – but the opportunity now to talk to somebody is there.”

It’s hoped the insurance will lead to faster access to private hospitals and help with the costs of non-urgent medical procedures, something Morehu believes other iwi should consider for their members.

“If anybody else gets the option to do the same thing, get stuck in. I’m talking about other iwi around the country, and I guess it'll be a leader towards something more positive happening in our health world.”

Their ultimate goal is to rollout to the wider iwi of Ngāti Whātua.