Louise Mukherji-Powell |

A dedication ceremony was held at Hinerupe Marae in Te Araroa, on the country’s East Cape, to unveil a new health shuttle vehicle. The Matakaoa Waka Ora Health Shuttle is one of the first to showcase a new livery design concept, which saw the Hato Hone St John Brand team collaborate with Haumi (NZ) Ltd, an indigenous design agency.

Residents in Te Araroa who face challenges getting to their local doctor or medical appointments at hospital can now access the free health shuttle service, which will be run by local volunteers.

Julie Taverner, Hato Hone St John National Community Transport Manager, explains how the community will benefit from the service.

“Our shuttles and volunteers play a vital role in facilitating access to vital health appointments - ensuring that whānau can attend. By doing so, we contribute to enhancing health outcomes and fostering independence.

“Additionally, our health shuttles serve as more than just transportation; they become a source of social connection and support, promoting overall wellbeing. For many, our shuttles are a trusted service they can consistently rely on when in need.”

Kindly gifted by the Greenlea Foundation, the Matakaoa Health Shuttle will feature Māori design concepts such as:

  • Tohorā (whales), which are an important symbol of wellbeing, powerful purpose, balance and health.
  • The horizontal Manawa line, or Pākati, representing the movement of vehicles and the beating heart of Hato Hone St John.
  • The Manaia on the tail of the whale, representing the children of Tangaroa - the entity of the ocean and his children providing stability and support to passengers while travelling in the waka ora (health shuttle).   
  • The Unaunahi or fish scale pattern, which come in sets of three throughout the design, representing a healthy pulse, wellbeing and safety for the community.

Ms Taverner continues, “As a proud New Zealander hailing from a small rural area, I find immense joy in being part of this journey. Much like many of my fellow Kiwis from my generation, my early exposure to our rich Māori culture involved witnessing the powerful haka at the onset of rugby games with my late father.

“Now, as the mother of a son with Māori heritage, it fills me with pride to be part of a change and ultimately making a positive impact on the lives of many New Zealanders. For me, our new concept livery stands as a powerful symbol of Hato Hone St John’s commitment, encapsulating the uniqueness that makes us Kiwis and reflecting our collective dedication to a more inclusive and equitable future.”

Not only will the new addition to the community feature the Māori design concept, its livery will also be uniquely tied to the area. The vehicle will include shuttle locations - to enable passengers to find it easily, and a donor decal to acknowledge the generosity of Greenlea Foundation.

Leigh Herewini, Hato Hone St John Community Transport Manager for the Central Region, which includes Te Araroa, says this will be a great addition to the community, following their experience in recent times.

“The devastating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle is still present in this region, so anything we can do to enhance the wellbeing of our communities is greatly appreciated. I want to say a big thank you to our hard-working volunteers who will be keeping our Matakaoa Waka Ora Health Shuttle service running, and to our Tikitiki based volunteers who will be working closely with them.”


Hato Hone St John media team

PH: 0800 756 334 | E: media@stjohn.org.nz


  • Hato Hone St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90 percent of New Zealanders and covers 97 percent of the country’s geographical area. 
  • Hato Hone St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff.
  • Hato Hone St John has contracts with Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand and ACC who have committed for the first two years to fund approximately 83 percent of the operating costs needed annually to run the ambulance service. The balance on what is required to run the service is made up from ambulance part charges, third-party contracts, and fundraising.  
  • Along with the emergency ambulance service, Hato Hone St John provides a significant number of community health programmes and initiatives which help build community resilience. They include Health Shuttles, Caring Caller, Friends of the Emergency Department, St John Youth, ASB St John in Schools, and Therapy Pets.
  • Hato Hone St John also delivers event health services, medical alarm services, first aid training and operates retail stores across the country. 


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