PhD (General Practice), MHSc (1st Class Honours), PGCert Prescribing, PGDipClinPharm (Distinction), PGCert(Herbal Medicines), CertHauoraMāori (LevelIV), DipPharm(Distinction)
Leanne Te Karu has broad experience across Aotearoa, New Zealand’s health and disability system, including in clinical settings, governance, research, strategy, and iwi development. Clinically, she works as a prescribing pharmacist in general practice, focusing on complex multimorbidity and unmet needs. Leanne is committed to weaving the strands of clinical excellence, cultural safety and Indigenous knowledge/values.
Leanne is the first pharmacist prescriber in Aotearoa. In addition to general practice/medical clinics, she works in marae settings alongside rongoā practitioners (including in the Waimarino amongst her whānau) to optimise medicine therapy. Medicines optimisation acknowledges that medicines have the potential to cure, control or prevent illness but that they can also cause adverse effects. The aim, therefore, is to ensure optimal use whereby the impacts of illnesses are reduced and drug-related harms are avoided.
Leanne is the current Associate Dean Māori for the School of Pharmacy Health Sciences at Te Whare Wananga o Otago, the University of Otago. Being Associate Dean Māori means she works with university leaders to ensure that different schools are implementing the Māori Strategic Framework and assists in this implementation.
Leanne co-founded Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā o Aotearoa, the Māori Pharmacists Association, in 2003 as a network to support Māori pharmacists and to hold the pharmacy profession to deliver culturally safe care to Māori. Leanne was President voluntarily for more than a decade.
In 2021, Leanne received the Pharmaceutical Society’s Gold Medal, awarded to a pharmacist who has made a significant and outstanding contribution to the profession. Leanne was recognised for her dedication to creating, pioneering and sharing ways to improve health outcomes. This medal is not often awarded, reportedly only 33 times in over 130 years. This medal came on the back of many other “firsts.” Just a few include the Inaugural Award for Clinical Pharmacist of the Year in 2012 and the Inaugural Primary Healthcare Pharmacist at the NZ Primary Healthcare Awards|He Tohu Mauri Ora in 2020.
Leanne was a Prime Ministerial appointment to the Pharmac Review Panel, which delivered its final report in 2022. Paramount Chief Sir Tumu Te Heuheu appointed her to sit on the Tūwharetoa Iwi Māori Partnership Board, which aspires to attain Pae Ora in Tūwharetoa rohe.
Leanne works tirelessly across many domains to improve Hauora in its fullest definition. She is involved in several research projects in Aotearoa, including ways to treat gout, diabetes, morning sickness during pregnancy and infections.
She writes articles for NZDoctor magazine and sits on New Zealand’s Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee. She is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care at the University of Auckland.
She has worked on many Atlases of Health Variation with Te Tāhū Hauora- Health Quality & Safety Commission to highlight variances in outcomes for Māori.
Leanne has two Treaty of Waitangi Claims under the Wai2575 collective submissions. Globally, she has forged relationships with other Indigenous entities, including Hawaii, Canada and Australia.
Leanne is focused on indigenous peoples and understanding how health systems can best support those who are disadvantaged, arguing for a medicines environment from an overarching solution-focused societal perspective with mātauranga at its core.