Mēnā kāore i te uaua ngā mahi, kāore he take.
An endeavour without challenge is an endeavour without substance.
With over 20 years of experience across Māori health development and education, Tuhakia is committed to supporting initiatives engaged in developing Māori communities with a passion for health, building the workforce, and sharing the value of Te Ao Māori. He supports new applications of old knowledge throughout Māori culture, te reo and tikanga to help organisations shift their ways of working to contribute to the success of Māori communities.
Tuhakia attributes the focus of his career to his father’s (Tuhakia Sonny Keepa) example of service and commitment to all forms of Māori cultural expression. Tuhakia’s father's teachings have guided him in his career, providing comfort in the struggle and a healthy appetite for challenge.
Tuhakia’s career in health began in 2001 as an alcohol and drug researcher for Te Atea Marino, the Auckland regional Māori alcohol and drug service; he was charged with identifying the key barriers to Māori access and retention at the regional inpatient detoxification service and identifying ways to engage better with Māori in that strained environment.
Over the next 16 years between the Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB) and Counties Manukau (CMDHB), that portfolio of experience would expand to include Māori mental health addiction services, Māori health service development and Māori health workforce development.
In his time in South Auckland, he had the opportunity to manage Te Arawhirwhiri, a Māori Mental Health and Addictions provider network. Alongside its members, Tuhakia led the development of Mental Health First Aid for Whānau, a community mental health literacy programme adapted from an indigenous programme developed in Australia, to be delivered by community people for communities. The programme aimed to grow the literacy of Māori whānau in and around mental health conditions, providing initial steps and the confidence to connect whānau to the right supports.
Tuhakia was pivotal in founding and implementing the Kia Ora Hauora program, a nationwide initiative promoting Māori health careers. This program actively encouraged individuals from secondary schools, tertiary institutions, and local communities to explore and pursue careers in the health sector.
His dedication to this cause even rubbed off on his family, as he proudly counts two adult sons who are now pursuing health science studies at Otago University whilst his wife is a General Practitioner. Kia Ora Hauora was launched in 2008, and the program remains active and has successfully engaged more than 5,000 Māori participants.
Tuhakia worked for EIT held the position of Poutahu – Māori, Executive Director from 2014, the driving force behind EIT's strategy to engage and uplift Māori students. He ensured a solid commitment to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and played a significant role in transforming EIT into an institution that embraces and celebrates Te Ao Māori.
One of Tuhakia's recent accomplishments was overseeing EIT's Te Pae Tawhiti self-evaluation report. This initiative collected valuable feedback to ensure that EIT's services effectively cater to the needs of Māori learners, their whānau, and the aspirations of local iwi and Māori communities.
Tuhakia currently leads the Hauora Māori and Equity division within Deloitte consulting. Its primary aim is to support organisations to develop their capabilities and systems to meet Māori communities' needs.