He waka hourua, he waka eke noa

14 Apr 2022
He waka hourua, he waka eke noaClayton Kohatu (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Ngāti Maniapoto)

He waka hourua, he waka eke noa.
A waka with two hulls bound by a common kaupapa. 

Clayton Kohatu (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Ngāti Maniapoto) is clearly driven by his kaupapa, and it’s that kaupapa that brings him to our Pinnacle waka as the new network lead for Tairāwhiti.  

It’s clear within minutes of talking with Clayton, that he’s a man driven by his service to whānau, hapū and iwi, who was lucky enough to find his calling into health about 20 years ago.   

“As a young guy I was a volunteer firefighter in Ngaruawahia. After attending a motor vehicle accident I found myself at Waikato Hospital, I got chatting with the ambulance guys and found out their service was predominantly volunteer too, and I guess I jumped ship and joined them,” explains Clayton.  

Clayton worked as a paramedic with St John in Gisborne and Ngaruwahia for many years, until a health event of his own lead him to 2DHB (Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley district health boards) where he was associate manager for emergency management, based out of Hutt Hospital.   

Clayton’s firm belief that we need to do things differently, and being able to spend more time with whānau, have now delivered him to Pinnacle’s Tairāwhiti office. “My wife is Tumuaki (principal) at Hatea A Rangi School in Tokomaru Bay, and our eldest son is a fisherman and youngest son is schooled in Uawa, Tolaga Bay, while our middle two sons are both at University, so it’s good to be back full-time rather than splitting my time between Wellington and home.”  

Clayton is interested in how we can make the primary care model better and more equitable to make a real improvement in hauora outcomes. 

Clayton is adamant we can’t keep being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, as clichéd as that sounds for an ex-paramedic. He wants a solution-based system. And he wants to be in the discussion, a part of the change.  

“I know with change comes a bit of mess and pain, and there will be sacrifices but we’ll be able to look back and see our why, and those outcomes will come.”  

Pinnacle’s reputation for data-driven decision making was also a big drawcard for Clayton, who is clear that decisions should be made on evidence, with measurable outcomes in mind. He’s keen to be part of an organisation that is bold enough to keep evolving processes.  

“The data would suggest that what we’re doing now, and have done for so long, isn’t really working. So, do we continue to do what we do? Or do we do something different?   

First up, Clayton has a few initiatives in mind which will keep him busy at the desk, and on the water.  

“Work wise, cardiovascular disease is something he’s keen to challenge. That puts smoking cessation firmly in my kaupapa. It’s great to see Pinnacle has the Koia Nā! Mō āke tonu smoking cessation programme running here.”   

Healthy kai is another piece of the CVD puzzle, and he’d like to see GST removed from fruit and vegetables to make them more affordable.  

Clayton assures us he does have plans to relax too. He’ll make the most of the beautiful moana, fishing, diving or finding life lessons through waka hourua, which he credits as a life changing activity.   

Pinnacle would like to acknowlege Turanga Health for hosting Clayton’s mihi whakatau, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with them.