Chas McCarthy

Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Haua, Te Ātihaunui a Pāpāranga, Ngati Whitikaupeka

Ka tū ana koe kei te taumata o Tongariro maunga,

Ka huri whakateraki, ki tōna iwi ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Ka huri whakateuru, ki tōna iwi ko Ngāti Haua

Ka titiro whakatetonga ki ōna iwi ko Te Ātihaunui a Pāpāranga me Ngāti Whitikaupeka.

Ko Chas McCarthy te tangata.


It is a privilege for me to be sharing about Chas McCarthy, a good friend and a trusted advisor.

Chas was one of the many cohorts of Māori mental health nurses and workers who were instrumental in transforming the mental health system and services for Māori throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Through this era, very few people were aware of the absence of Māori culture that many Māori faced when requiring mental health care. The foundation of Kaupapa Māori Health services came about because of the positive and strong pioneering work of both Chas - and his many other cohorts - in challenging and creating a user-friendly environment within mental health services when it came to delivering care for Māori.

Chas shuns personal attention and recognition but leads by being an exemplar of strong character.  He is never one to speak of his abilities, strengths or qualities but is always the first to acknowledge others.

I have had the privilege of working alongside Chas and witnessing his work within the Ministry of Health improving practice and policy for Māori. This work often goes unheralded. However, many Māori mental health providers and workforce organisations have benefitted from his leadership and advocacy abilities, especially when it has been about influencing national policy and contracting processes for Maori Health services.

Working towards a vision of Whānau Ora was easy for Chas.  Because he is a dedicated husband, father and whānau member, for him, whānau ora is not a ‘work’ policy but his ‘normal’ way of life and lifestyle. Others recognise the authenticity of this, as he is often sought out as a coach and a mentor within Whanau Ora.

It has been a pleasure to watch Chas support the growth of Māori staff, but also non-Māori. An example: one of our colleagues, with no New Zealand family, recently had her first child.  Chas has become a koro figure for her, and he was acknowledged by her family when they came to Aotearoa.

Māori leadership is about the person and their integrity. Chas demonstrates integrity each day, and people choose to seek and follow his advice.  A leader is not measured by what they do but by others that choose to follow.

Profile By

Hingatu Thompson, Māori Health Service Improvement Manager, Ministry Of Health, Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti 2018

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