Uruuruwhenua building
November 2022

Taking the clinic to the shearers

Shearing kaimahi in Central Otago are getting extra tautoko from hauora providers while they are in town for the shearing season. 

Iwi hauora provider Te Kaika and Alexandra-based provider Uruuruwhenua Health are making sure shearers, most of whom are Māori, are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Many shearers don’t live in the rohe and don’t know where to get local hauora support. They work over a large area, do long days and often can’t make it to clinics during working hours. Since February, Uruuruwhenua has been taking the clinic to them.

“The barriers that already exist in accessing healthcare are exacerbated with a rural setting like this and the transient nature of the job,” said Lana.

In February, Uruuruwhenua and Te Kaika ran a successful COVID-19 vaccination drive-through for the wider rural community. Many drove through in their work trucks straight off the farm wearing their singlets and gumboots.

Last month they were at it again, with a hauora clinic alongside the NZ Merino Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, one of the most popular events in Central Otago for competitors and spectators.  

To get the word out, they ran a campaign on social media and in local newspapers. They topped this off by sponsoring the event, handing out a coveted Merino Shears trophy to the best team.   

Uruuruwhenua and Te Kaika staff set up their pop-up clinic in a building next door to the two-day competition. They set up an outdoor area which included kai, activities for tamariki and raranga stations. Whānau got the opportunity to get up to date with COVID-19 and MMR vaccinations.

The clinic also offered mirimiri, a podiatrist, blood pressure checks, and awhi for smoking cessation, exercise, nutrition and asthma. Te Waka Wahine Hauora women’s health bus rolled up to offer contraception, STI checks and pregnancy screening.

Lana said her team enjoyed seeing whānau respond to the drive-through and pop-up clinics and is keen to keep thinking out of the box to awhi shearers in the future. 

“That's something that we're still really working hard at. I think we just need to be really open to what are the barriers and how can we overcome them.”