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In 2018, the Ministry of Health and PMGH providers within the Waikato region got together to discuss options for how providers might enhance the collective approaches they hold as a sector and bring more visibility to the kaupapa within communities and throughout the wider mental health and addictions sector. This eventually became known as the Waikato PMGH Pilot Project.

In 2019, 2 new providers had been selected to deliver the PMGH contracts in Waikato. These were K’aute Pasifika and Te Kohao Health. These providers are Whānau Ora providers and offered an opportunity to both explore ways to collaborate from a Whānau Ora centred approach and provide a function for the pilot to develop a korowai of support around the establishment of the PMGH services within these organisations. 

The pilot designers formulated a PMGH Waikato Pilot Steering Group which comprised of Raukura Hauora o Tainui, Oasis, Problem Gambling Foundation, Pinnacle Healthcare, Hauraki PHO, Waikato DHB, The Ministry of Health, Te Kohao Health and K’aute Pasifika. This roopu meet monthly hosted by Raukura Hauora o Tainui (pre COVID19 that is). Their hui are shaped into spaces to share updates on programme delivery, raise awareness of upcoming projects, offer support, and an in depth Q&A session with the intention of working more collaboratively across the organisations at the Steering Group table.

The pilot also established a public health fund which is an application-based process available to Maori and Pacific communities in the region. The fund supports locally driven responses to the harms caused by gambling they have identified and wish to address. Applications are received by the PMGH providers and presented to the Steering Group for review. This allows the Steering Group to provide feedback and advice for how the applicants might strengthen the outcomes they desire from the funding rather than determine what is fundable and what is not. In the last 12months, 6 applications have been endorsed by the Steering Group and 7 were provided with advice for consideration to enhance the outcomes of their projects. Projects have included a various number of activities from the development of advocacy groups to whānau days, cultural programmes linked to community support groups and cultural alternatives to gambling activities. 

COVID19 has seen the Steering Group membership stretched to capacity. However,  PMGH providers in Waikato have continued to keep the flames of whakawhanautanga burning. Just this morning Makarita from Te Kohao Health introduced herself to one of the sector's newest members, Taisha from Oasis. The Waikato PMGH Pilot Project is well rooted in the region now and as this old sector seeks new horizons and new collaborations, the mahi being achieved here overshadows any notion of a short term pilot, and has its sights firmly set on the future.

- by Anthony Hawke, Hāpai Te Hauora


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