Growing the Māori Occupational Therapy Workforce

In 2008, two percent of the registered Occupational Therapy workforce identified as Māori. With the leadership of Jane Hopkirk (Ngati Kahungungu) and her Occupational Therapy colleagues, Te Rau Matatini launched the first Māori Occupational Therapy Strategy. Its purpose to encourage more Māori to enter the profession and to stay working in Occupational Therapy.

The strategy was launched by Tariana Turia (Associate Minister of Health) who supported the strategy by saying that “Te Umanga Whakaora was an excellent resource to help the occupational therapy workforce make a real difference for those seeking a pathway towards whānau ora.”

A decade afterward, the strategy was reviewed with key stakeholders in occupational therapy including the OT Board, the polytechnics, key leaders, and Occupational Therapy NZ to identify their priorities with Te Rau Matatini, now Te Rau Ora.

In 2019, Māori made up 4.1% of registered occupational therapist in New Zealand, with Māori men taking an increasing interest in the discipline. Recruitment and retention of Māori in occupational therapy remains a continual priority – Te Rau Ora continues to support the Occupational Therapy profession to explore further opportunities to increase Māori in their field.