Ririwai Fox is a self-described “Swiss army knife” working within the Hauora Māori team.
Tell us a little about yourself
I come from a shearing family in the Wairarapa, where I learned the value of hard work. But I was fortunate to have a mother who had a strong focus on education. So I spent my early years in the shearing and meat industry until I embarked on my education journey. I completed an undergraduate in Psychology and then an Honours degree while completing the first year of my Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology. From there, I deferred to complete a PhD which I should submit in 2022. From there I’ll go back and complete my Clinical Psychology training.
I was also raised and educated through Kōhanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori. Through this upbringing, I am privileged to be embedded in te ao Māori, with an intricate understanding of Māori values, beliefs, and practices, and an ability to apply these in practice.
What’s your role as part of the health reform?
I work in the Hauora Māori team as a Swiss army knife. Essentially my role is to support the establishment of the Māori Health Authority and ensure that the reformed health system has meaningfully considered Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations. As is often the case with Māori input, I work with the wider Hauora Māori team to provide advice across the wide array of workstreams that will be influenced and impacted by the Māori Health Authority.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on Day 1 data and digital on the Māori Health Authority workstream, ensuring that issues such as Māori data sovereignty are addressed. I am also writing a Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Equity framework to support all workstreams in considering whether they have adequately considered and integrated equity and Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles into their mahi.
What happens next?
On paper, I will be one of the first Māori Health Authority staff members as the interim measures begin. A lot of work has gone into developing each section of the reformed health system. What’s next is to bring it all together and make sure all of the pieces work together in collaboration.
What is your advice to the sector?
Be brave and transformative. This is an amazing opportunity to make a substantial and meaningful difference to the lives of all people in Aotearoa.