If you ask Melanie Tata what she likes to do in her spare time, the answer is “find a committee to join.”
The CEO of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ranginui and newly appointed co-chair of the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation (WBOP PHO) is passionate about her mahi (work).
“I am very much part of my community. I am from Huria Marae, Ngāi Tamarāwaho is my Hapū and Ngāti Ranginui my Iwi. I also connect to Korohe Marae, Ngāti Tūwharetoa Iwi,” says Melanie. “I’ve worked in the health sector now for 20 years, starting off as a support worker for my grandparents.”
She trained as a massage therapist, and continued on to business school before joining Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ranginui in 2007 as an administrator.
While working in a health promotion role for Huria Management Trust she was encouraged to pursue a degree in social work.
“The opportunity to work and study within a Kaupapa Māori environment, marae-based alongside my kaumātua and kuia was a strong foundation to grow within the health and social services sector”
The mother of two teenage boys worked her way up to Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ranginui Quality and Business Improvement Manager and transitioned into the CEO role in 2019.
She particularly enjoys engaging with tamariki and rangatahi. Ngāti Ranginui was one of the first iwi to provide Oranga Tamariki services, allowing Melanie a platform to influence and navigate toward better health, social and cultural outcomes for whānau.
“To me, the advantage of working in an iwi space is that you work within so many sectors, from health to local government, to environment. I’m grateful for the opportunities that this position provides.”
Melanie has also been involved in the iwi health programme, Mauri Ora, which is funded by the WBOP PHO.
“The programme is all about early intervention, empowering whānau to manage their own health and design their own health outcomes.”
“We are seeing 100 percent participation in projects, which is a direct result of whānau-lead project design.”
The WBOP PHO was established in 2003 and is a joint venture company between Western Bay of Plenty Primary Care Providers Inc., Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi Te Rangi. Melanie took over the co-chair role from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi CEO Paora Stanley in December and shares the position with Dr Luke Bradford, GP and co-owner of Fifth Avenue Family Practice.
She has enjoyed being involved in the development of the organisation’s Health Strategy, which has a strong focus on achieving equity in health outcomes for Māori.
“We wanted something futuristic, with a vision for improving Māori health. As we have shown with Mauri Ora, we need whānau-inclusive design of health services, together with stronger community engagement through our iwi partners. I also respect what Providers Inc. brings to the table and how genuine they are in wanting to see an improvement in Māori health.”
And what does the future of primary healthcare look like for Melanie?
“I hope to see improved access to health services and resources within our communities. I want whānau to take ownership of their health by tailoring resources that work for them.
“I hope services will be a little more mobile, and a little more tech-savvy as we evolve with the generations. I’m thinking at 75 I may have a virtual caregiver that pops up on my smartwatch to tell me when to take my pills. Oh wait, I shouldn’t need them!”