Great Barrier Island / Aotea is home to an isolated rural community spread across a rugged, bush covered main island and several offshore islands. Lying 88km north east of Auckland Central City, the Island protects the waters of the inner Hauraki Gulf. The eastern coast is wild with long wave swept sand beaches, and towering cliffs. The western coast has several deep harbours and many mangrove coves and inlets.
Year-round residents’ number about 1000, while tourist / bach owner / boaties numbers over a busy summer season can peak at 15,000 on any one day.
The island has no reticulated power or sewerage. There is no bank or ATM. There is no High School, Early Child Care facility, Cottage Hospital, Rest Home, medical laboratory, physiotherapist, or undertaker.
Transport to and from the mainland is expensive and weather dependent. There is no public transport on the island and freight charges increase costs across all categories of consumables; particularly petrol / diesel, and food / cooking gas.
The Great Barrier Island Community Health Trust was formed as a response to this situation; a creative Island based solution to its social / health needs. The community run the Trust. It consists of 9 trustees; six representing the community (each elected tri-annually) and one each representing Ngati Rehua – Ngati Wai ki Aotea, the practising doctors, the practising nurses.
The three main aims of the trust are;
- To equip and maintain the Community Health Centre at Claris and Te Kotuku Cottage at Port Fitzroy (known as The Nurses Cottage), by fundraising, lobbying, and management of the current resources, including vehicles.
- To devote particular attention to health on Great Barrier Island and in this regard to take steps to promote, encourage, and create good health awareness within the community.
- To employ a community worker on behalf of the residents.
The Health Trust interfaces closely with “Aotea Health Ltd”, the team of health professionals on the Island. The Trust provides them with up-to-date modern facilities (owned by the community, which they in turn lease) and from which the health services required by residents and visitors to Great Barrier Island are provided.