Rongoā Māori proving a success for ACC

By James Perry

The 4000 ACC staff now have an option to choose traditional Māori healing as a well-being support service alongside their existing Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

ACC Māori health manager Eldon Paea says the initiative has been warmly welcomed, with 68 staff opting for rongoā in the first month since it became available.

"And those who have already received rongoā have given us some feedback, and they really enjoy it. But also the rongoā practitioners are really proud that ACC is enabling rongoā as not just to help our clients who are injured but also to help with the maintenance of our own staff."

The initiative builds on an agreement made two years ago by ACC to approve rongoā Māori as a treatment option for its clients. 

Paea says it aligns with ACC's Māori health strategy, Whāia te Tika.

Available to all staff

"And we're looking at improving access, experience and outcomes for Māori. So it's not just our clients but also our staff. It also enables us to uphold our Treaty of Waitangi responsibilities. But the cool thing is that this is not just available to just Māori. It's available to all our kaimahi across ACC."

He says the option to utilise rongoā has proven to be popular with ACC clients over the past two years, with about 2400 clients accessing more than 16,000 rongoā sessions.

"We've seen that it's improving access, ACC data shows that one in five rongoā clients were new to ACC, and hadn’t previously received other forms of ACC care or treatment before receiving rongoā."

"We are also getting feedback from clients that they are re-engaging with the health system through rongoā, which is, in a way, a gateway to re-engage with the health system they had previously given up on."

He says data also shows 70% of those accessing rongoā services are female, where previously women were less likely to access ACC services.

"So it's ticking off a lot of access barriers. There is a large list of access issues but always one step forward to helping us improve access."