Whānau Ora (Māori for "healthy families") is a major contemporary indigenous health initiative in New Zealand, driven by Māori cultural values. Its core goal is to empower communities and extended families (whānau) to support families within the community context rather than individuals within an institutional context.

History and objectivesEdit

Whānau Ora evolved out of the coalition between the National and Māori parties after the 2008 general election[1][2] and became a cornerstone of the coalition agreement between them after the 2011 general election.[3][4] Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry for Māori Development) stated in 2011 that:

Whānau Ora is an inclusive approach to providing services and opportunities to whānau across New Zealand. It empowers whānau as a whole, rather than focusing separately on individual whānau members and their problems.[5]

Prior to the health initiative, Whānau Ora was the name of the Māori health awards.[6]


The programme has been criticised for having hard to define and impossible to measure specific outputs;[7][8][9] as well as a disproportionate amount of funding being spent in Turia's electorate.[10] MP Winston Peters has been a vocal opponent of the program.[10][11] The longest-established national Māori health organisation, the Māori Women's Welfare League choose not to participate in Whānau Ora, but some regional leaders are involved. The League operates a parenting skills course called Whanau Toko i te Ora, which is unrelated to Whānau Ora.[12]

Ministerial oversightEdit

Between April 2010 and September 2014, Māori Party co-leader Tariana Turia served as Minister for Whānau Ora.[13][14][15] Between September 2014 and October 2017, the portfolio for Whānau Ora was occupied by Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.[16] Following the 2017 election, the Labour MP Peeni Henare assumed the position of Minister for Whānau Ora.[17]

Colour key
(for political parties)



  Māori Party  
No. Name Portrait Term of office Prime Minister
1 Tariana Turia   8 April 2010 8 October 2014 Key
2 Te Ururoa Flavell   8 October 2014 21 October 2017
3 Peeni Henare   26 October 2017 Incumbent Ardern


For technical reasons, many sources spell "Whānau Ora" without the macron.

  1. ^ "Q&A with Tariana Turia". The New Zealand Herald. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. Our main focus is on whanau ora – the well being of family and what it takes to make them well, healthy, independent, standing on their own two feet.
  2. ^ "Govt showing interest in Maori-style social services". The New Zealand Herald. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. National Party ministers appear to implicitly support Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia's plan to bundle multiple contracts for Maori health, education, housing, justice and social services into integrated 'Whanau Ora' contracts covering the whole spectrum of services for regional groups of Maori whanau.
  3. ^ "Nats and Maori Party sign". The New Zealand Herald. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. Developing Whanau Ora, a Ministerial Committee on Poverty and a new focus for Te Puni Kokiri are the centre-pieces of the National Party-Maori Party confidence and supply agreement.
  4. ^ "Nats-Maori deal to help poor". The New Zealand Herald. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. Develop a stand-alone commissioning agency for whanau ora in the next 12 months.
  5. ^ "Whānau Ora". tpk.govt.nz. 2011. Archived from the original on 21 November 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  6. ^ "Whānau Ora Awards". maorihealth.govt.nz. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. The Whānau Ora Awards promote successful models of service delivery or initiatives that increase whānau health and wellbeing by building on the strengths and assets of whānau and Māori communities.
  7. ^ "What is Whanau Ora? " The Standard". thestandard.org.nz. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. I have a sinking feeling that this is all just a scam. I fear that interjecting themselves between public service providers and the public is just a way for Turia's buddies to clip the ticket, grabbing some taxpayer dosh without delivering anything of real value to the people in need. The complete failure of anyone to show what precisely Whanau Ora is and how it will deliver a net benefit to the people it is intended for only deepens my suspicion that it is all a scam.
  8. ^ "Families Commissioner struggles with whanau ora". stuff.co.nz. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  9. ^ "Whanau Ora: the unanswered questions". stuff.co.nz. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. Opinion: With her Whanau Ora scheme last week, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia unveiled a genuine magic trick. That is, a new system that will socialise and privatise the delivery of social services in this country, and do both at once.
  10. ^ a b Kate Chapman And John Hartevelt (8 February 2012). "Peters demands apology over Whanau Ora row". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  11. ^ Tracy Watkins (27 November 2012). "Whanau Ora overstayer claims". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  12. ^ "MWWL chose not to be Whanau Ora provider". radionz.co.nz. 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  13. ^ "Hon Tariana Turia". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Big promotions ahead in today's Cabinet reshuffle". The New Zealand Herald. 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011. Tariana Turia as Minister Responsible for Whanau Ora, Minister for Disability Issues, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Housing.
  15. ^ Andrea Vance (December 2012). "Taria's Lack of Accountability Over Whanau Ora Personifies..." Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Hon Te Ururoa Flavell". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Ministry of Māori Development". Te Puni Kokiri. Retrieved 11 October 2017.

External linksEdit