Leading the way in Māori health equity requires a clear plan. Our Aka strategy outlines a path to improve Māori health outcomes in Aotearoa. To be successful, it must be woven through the people, culture and mahi.

Mā mua ka kite a muri, mā muri ka ora a mua.

Those who lead give sight to those who follow, those who follow give life to those who lead.

What is the Aka strategy?

The Aka strategy was developed by our Māori advisor team, Kāhui Mauaka and is one of the five key pillars of our strategy, Manaaki Ora. It represents our commitment to progressing the aspirations of Te Tīriti o Waitangi (the reo Māori version of the Treaty of Waitangi) by uplifting te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview) and fostering mana Motuhake Māori (Māori autonomy), through its vision, values and everyday mahi.

Hato Hone St John Paramedic being greeted with a hongi

Three threads of the Aka strategy

Picture the Aka Strategy as three intertwined aka or vines. They grow together, each flowing into the next. As we nurture them, their bonds and connections become stronger.

The three aka - Aka Matua, Aka Here and Aka Whiri - provide a framework for advancing Māori health equity. As each individual aka grows stronger, it enables the others to grow. Finally, through Aka Matua, we partner with iwi Māori to improve wellbeing outcomes and therefore impact existing health inequalities. 

How the three aka work together

Aka Strategy as three intertwined aka or vines

Aka Matua

The big picture goal of Māori health equity is progressed when we are trusted by iwi Māori to help them solve a health equity related problem.

Aka Here

With cultural capability comes the possibility of building authentic relationships and partnerships with iwi Māori, founded on the guiding principle of Mana Motuhake (self determination)

Aka Whiri

Our investment in cultural competency and safety will help to nurture our ability across the organisation to navigate and uphold a Te Ao Māori world view.


Te Ao Māori, the foundation of the Aka strategy

A Te Ao Māori worldview takes a holistic view of health and offers a fresh perspective on tackling health inequities. A Te Ao Māori perspective views everything in life as connected. Health can't be separated from the wider social, emotional, physical, cultural, and spiritual aspects of each person. This is at the heart of our Aka strategy and helps guide us when co-designing potential solutions with iwi Māori.

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Why equity for Māori is so important

The inequities experienced by Māori in our health system are not new and the systems and processes required to access health services in Aotearoa have not helped. The need for change is urgent to create a health system that is more equitable and accessible for all the people it serves.

The Aka strategy sets out a path where Māori health equity solutions are developed by Māori, for Māori and with a Māori worldview at its heart. It helps us to be considered as a trusted partner worthy of helping iwi Māori to build a more equitable future for their mokopuna.

Our role in equity for Māori

Often our staff and volunteers are the first or only point of contact some people have with the health system. As such, we take seriously our responsibility to ensure Māori access to our services is as easy as it is for other people living in Aotearoa. We are more than an ambulance service, and our dedicated people make life-changing differences every day for communities across the motu. 

Our goals and initiatives under the Aka strategy

  • Kāhui Mauaka (Māori Responsiveness Team), provides guidance and assistance in the co-design of health initiatives with whānau, hapū and iwi to ensure that communities that need help are supported appropriately.

  • Our people have skills and knowledge in Te Ao Māori to engage with Māori with confidence, respect and understanding.

  • Through building authentic and lasting iwi partnerships, we hope that other iwi will approach us about new partnership opportunities.

  • We want Māori staff to feel their mana is upheld, supported and enhanced in their mahi with us at Hato Hone St John.

  • Tikanga (Māori practices) are normalised in our workplace.

  • The wider Māori staff network leads kaupapa Māori initiatives.

We've made good progress

With the establishment of Kāhui Mauaka in 2021 we've taken some positive steps. Here are some of the things we're proud to have achieved so far.

New mobile wellness unit
We helped iwi Māori and hauora providers during Covid-19 to increase vaccination rates (Waka Rongoā) and to support whānau with Covid-19 to isolate safely at home (Kete Manaaki).

New ambulance design
We renamed our organisation Hato Hone St John and our ambulances to Waka Manaaki to better describe who we are and what we stand for.

Patient taking blood pressureWe set up a free service to help Māori and Pasifika people to manage their blood pressure from the comfort of their own home (Manaaki Mamao) and a telehealth (phone) service for people who are unable to travel to their health appointments (Whare Manaaki).

Call center staff member on the phone

We are also working with iwi to reduce barriers preventing kaumātua from dialing 111 in an emergency (Eke Manaaki).

Health Shuttle drivers
We are growing our Waka Ora Health Shuttle programme to ensure people in rural and remote communities have better access to the health system.

Ambulance officer talking through the radio
In our ambulance service, we are bringing more and more Māori into the organisation and are placing frontline staff into hauora to help communities to be more resilient.


Contact Kāhui Mauaka

If you would like to get in touch with Kāhui Mauaka about anything relating to te Ao Māori we'd be very happy to hear from you. You can email us or you're welcome to call us on 0800 ST JOHN (0800 785 646).


Diversity, inclusion and belonging

We champion a workplace where everyone belongs, and where people feel valued, connected, and included.


Meet our leadership team

Our Executive Leadership team is responsible for leading and managing our activities in New Zealand.


Manaaki Ora Strategy

As well as emergency ambulance services, we play a vital part in building greater resilience and wellness in our communities. Manaaki Ora is our road map.


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