Gilbert Taurua is deeply passionate about using a Māori perspective in law reform concerning health, justice, inequality, and prisons. Gilbert has extensive experience in Treaty of Waitangi principles, Whānau Ora, their application to health pathways, Te Reo Māori, Tikanga, and government processes.
Having completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Certificate, and Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work, he moved into advisory roles in drug and alcohol addiction services, DHB strategy, and law reform. With over 30 years of experience spanning the health, social services, education, and justice sectors, he has gained insights into policy, practice, research, and evaluation. His previous roles include Principal Advisor Māori at the New Zealand Drug Foundation, National Māori Manager for the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand, and Director of Māori Health with the Whanganui District Health Board.
Currently serving as the Director of Equity and Student well-being at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha I University of Canterbury, he has a strong interest in equitable academic outcomes for all students and staff. Before this, he served as the Chief Māori Strategy and Improvement Officer at Southern District Health Board and WellSouth Primary Health Network,
Gilbert led a restructuring of the DHB Māori Health Directorate to align with regional priorities. He oversaw six COVID-19 Emergency Control Centres and provided leadership for Māori responsiveness and equity within the southern health system. He actively supports health workers in engaging with iwi and collaborates with established entities and organisations to better serve the community.https://wanakaapp.nz/news/news/hui-to-consider-mental-health-as-demand-for-services-increases?id=606c00dac97a77002823851c
His commitment to social justice arises from his parents, who were both natural-born social workers. Observing their management of pre- and post-release prison hostels, Gilbert grew up understanding the effects of the criminal justice system and the inequality surrounding Māori.
Outside his professional work, Gilbert has been appointed to various organisations, including serving as Director of Te Rau Matatini Limited (Māori Mental Health Workforce Development), Board member of Te Atawhai o Te Ao Charitable Trust (Independent Māori Institute for Environment and Health), and an Executive Board Member of The Asthma & Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand.
Gilbert currently sits on the Board of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Care Action Network and the Māori Coalition on FASD. He helped establish the International Indigenous Drug Policy Alliance and represented Aotearoa New Zealand at the recent United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs held in Vienna. This work has highlighted the impact that the war on drugs has had on indigenous peoples worldwide and including in Aotearoa New Zealand.