Innovative Marlborough practice, Manu Ora, proud to be recognised in business awards

March 26, 2024

Staff at Manu Ora, a small innovative Blenheim primary health care practice, were thrilled to receive three awards at the recent Marlborough Chamber of Commerce business awards.

Manu Ora kaimahi (staff) were honoured, humbled, and incredibly proud to be the recipients of three awards at the 2023 Marlborough Chamber of Commerce business awards – the new and emerging business of the year award, the community impact award, and the big surprise of the night, the supreme business award.

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One of our two GPs, Sara Simmons, said that recognition of our small Te Tauihu (top of the south region) primary health care team at the awards “shines a light on health equity, in particular Māori health equity”.

Manu Ora won three awards — new and emerging business of the year, community impact and the supreme business award.
Manu Ora staff and directors at the awards ceremony. Photo: Brya Ingram

Receiving the business awards is a massive celebration of success for our new model of primary health care, which we developed in response to the increasing primary health crisis in New Zealand and the GP and nurse shortage caused by staff burnout.

Collaboration between owners and Te Piki Oranga

The vision for Manu Ora was conceived by its GP owners, Sara Simmons and Rachel Inder, practice manager Anna Young and nurse Tania Gregory. It is a charitable entity and a collaboration between the owners and Māori health and wellness provider Te Piki Oranga.

Manu Ora relies on funding from the Marlborough Primary Health Organisation, Te Whatu Ora and other community organisations. Our management team has become proficient at writing funding proposals, without which we wouldn’t be able to provide the service we strive to.

This funding enables us to have fewer patient enrolments per GP FTE, and allows our kaimahi to provide holistic, high-quality health care.

Nurse Nicola Heaney with patient Leonie McSweeney.

The practice prioritises enrolling patients who are Māori who don’t have a GP or are not engaged with a primary care provider, Māori families with young children who are without a primary care provider, and high complexity patients with health and social issues such as mental health problems and long-term health conditions.

Removing barriers

Manu Ora has a strongly held ethos of removing barriers to primary care such as cost and issues with transport and timeliness of appointments/responses, and of providing culturally safe care and active advocacy and navigation of health and social services beyond the primary care setting.

Using various funding streams and grants, we offer flexibility on charging, so that it is either low cost, or free for those who need it. This is assessed on the basis of individual need, and ensures that cost is not a barrier to people accessing our service.

This extended first appointment enables us to get to know our whānau, by listening to their stories . . .

Its rōpū (staff) is small, as is its patient population of 1400, and its appointment times longer (20 minutes rather than the usual 10-15 minutes).

Tania Gregory

Each new patient spends 40 minutes with the nurse, followed by 20 minutes with the GP (or 40 minutes for more complex problems) and we use Sir Mason Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Whā model of health care as a framework to gather information.

This extended first appointment enables us to get to know our whānau, by listening to their stories, to gain a better understanding of all aspects of their hauora (wellbeing) in a flexible, whānau-centred way. This understanding is at the centre of what we do and has been integral in planning the health care we provide.

Building relationships with the wider community is fundamental to our work . . .

When we started, we debated whether to call the people we enrolled “patients” or “clients” but they told us they wanted to be “whānau”. “Whānau” refers to our patients and their wider family and supporters — everyone who comes through the door is whānau.

Ann McAslan

Building relationships with the wider community is fundamental to our work, extending our reach to help provide additional layers of support for our whānau.

A gratifying example of this is our relationship with the Christchurch Methodist Mission which has resulted in many of our whānau moving from emergency accommodation into warm, clean, and safe housing.

Enjoyable, rewarding place to work

Manu Ora is not only committed to providing accessible, high-quality health care to its whānau, but also to take care of its rōpū by providing an enjoyable, supportive, stimulating and rewarding place to work. The staff includes six part-time GPs, three part-time practice nurses and one health-care assistant.

As registered nurses working in primary care it is extremely rewarding, and enjoyable being able to provide quality health care in a friendly, whānau-centred environment.

Manu Ora pays tribute to its nursing staff on International Nurses Day.

We are committed to workforce sustainability and development by hosting both medical and nursing students. We value rōpū training and build on kaimahi roles as the need arises.

Committed to Māori workforce

Manu Ora is also committed to building a Māori health workforce and supports all kaimahi to increase their confidence and knowledge of tikanga and te reo.

Our practice is in a quiet suburban street in a whare originally owned by a local Māori whānau who were committed to holistically caring for others, and you can feel that wairua when you walk into Manu Ora.

RN Ann McAslan and health-care assistant Mikayla Charlton.

Our whare and garden contribute to an atmosphere that is caring and respectful, warm and welcoming for our all our whānau and their support networks. ​We have a pātaka (pantry) including a fridge/freezer in the waiting room stocked with an abundance of kai for anyone to help themselves.

Kai and other grocery items on our pātaka shelves are all donated by whānau, community organisations and retailers, for which we are very grateful.

Started with a vision

The business awards, a recent evaluation from the Sapere research group, and feedback from our whānau and our community are acknowledgements that a great service can be offered. Such a service starts with a vision for improving the existing model for primary care practice, the support of an effective team, a willing and generous community, and some hard mahi!

Manu Ora would like to extend a huge thank you to all our whānau, kaimahi, community, funders, and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce for supporting a sustainable future for Manu Ora, and the opportunity to continue to provide accessible, equitable and quality health care for our whānau.

 Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu

Me whakahoki mai te mana ki te whānau, hapū, iwi.

Kia korowaitia aku mokopuna ki te korowaitanga hauora.

Adorn the bird with feathers so it can fly and return the mana to us.

Let our future generations be embraced in good health.


Tania Gregory, RN, PGCert (primary care), is tapuhi arahanga (clinical nurse leader) at Manu Ora.

Ann McAslan, RN, is a tapuhi hauora (registered nurse) at Manu Ora.