Mā te whiritahi, ka whakatutuki ai ngā pūmanawa ā tāngata
Together weaving the realisation of potential

The term ‘Kaiāwhina’ is a taonga (treasure) that embodies the core essence and nature of an essential workforce that is passionate, resilient, diverse, skilled and committed to supporting hauora (holistic wellbeing) outcomes.

The origins of the name for the workforce stem from a desire to create a term to replace demeaning labels such as the ‘non-regulated’ or ‘unregulated’ health and disability workforce.

More about whakapapa of the term Kaiāwhina

The Wakapapa of the Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan

Owned by the Health and Disability sector and overseen by a partnership between Careerforce and the Ministry of Health, the first and formative 5-year Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan 2015-2020 launched in July 2015.

The common agenda of the Plan stakeholders is reflected in the 20-Year Vision;

“A Kaiāwhina workforce that adds value to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders by being competent, adaptable and an integral part of service provision”

and is laid out clearly in the seven domains, 22 outcomes and 53 actions of the Plan.

  • The Kaiāwhina Workforce Taskforce, made up of a broad range of health and disability sector leaders, has guided the Plan and provided governance leadership for the delivery of the Plan’s 53 actions.
    The Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan 2015-2020 concluded in June 2020, having helped to build an enduring foundation for the future of the Kaiāwhina workforce.
    To ensure that the momentum gained continues, the Health Workforce Advisory Board has added their support to this important mahi.

Find out more about the progress of the 2015-2020 Plan [ROI doc and Domain Summary Papers] or check out the Health Quality and Safety Commission website which has a dedicated section to the Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan 2015-2020 information and resources Health Quality & Safety Commission | Home: Kaiāwhina workforce action plan (

The Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan 2020-2025

As New Zealand’s population grows and ages, it is vital that Kaiāwhina continue to be developed and supported to achieve their full potential as members of the interprofessional team. The Plan aims to increase the visibility and profile of this essential workforce as valuable, competent, and integral members of the New Zealand health and disability system.

Supporting tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) for this essential workforce, the vision is to amplify the Kaiāwhina voice in the governance and implementation of the Plan for the next period; 2020-2025.  Guidance from the workforce itself will be integral to navigating and informing the next part of their journey.

The new programme of work drawn from workforce stakeholders has five core priorities that form the framework of the Plan’s focus.

1.         Building cultural capability

This mahi acknowledges the importance of tangata whenua and Te Ao Māori. It appreciates the criticality of understanding the importance and success of inclusive community movements like Whānau ora.

It also recognises that Aotearoa is a nation of increasing cultural diversity where complex inequalities exist. It acknowledges that the Kaiāwhina workforce, through their work with whānau and communities, can assist to increase equitable health outcomes.

2.         Connecting Kaiāwhina

It is recognised that Kaiāwhina should be more involved in the mahi of the Taskforce.  This will be achieved by creating a mechanism for Kaiāwhina to shape and influence the output of the group through meaningful contribution.

The moemoeā sees Kaiāwhina as leaders, helping to inform strategies and future service delivery solutions. COVID-19 experiences highlighted that there are gaps in understanding about what Kaiāwhina do in communities, improved understanding will enhance decision making.

3.        Accelerating new ways of working and eco-system thinking

The ambition of this priority has grown with COVID-19. During rāhui/lockdown Taskforce members acknowledged positive, new ways of working and expressed the criticality to learn from these. The pandemic response has shown the necessity for whole of system thinking and solution design.

Taskforce members highlighted how the response to the pandemic had clearly shown the necessity for the health system to work together to find innovative ways to respond to the challenges.  This involved rethinking what roles Kaiāwhina perform, how they work alongside regulated professions, and the wider appreciation of the role they play in the health system.

4.     Creating workforce knowledge and data

This priority recognises that while some progress has been made, there remains a paucity of joined up data about the workforce and to date, no consistent data language, centralised system or go to organisation. In addition, COVID-19 identified the need to develop greater understanding about what Kaiāwhina do in communities and created a sense of urgency to understand the benefits and potential of emerging initiatives.

5.     Supplying and developing the workforce

Workforce supply is potentially seeing the greatest game changer ever as COVID-19 redefines employment and gives visibility and value to essential workforces including Kaiāwhina. Also new on the horizon are the education and training opportunities that could be realised as part of the Review of Vocational Education. This priority also acknowledges the diversity of communities in Aotearoa and the desire to have a workforce that can support and where possible reflect them. The challenge for this priority is to move quickly but also in time with employer and stakeholder needs, recognising demands on resources and competing priorities.

More about the Kaiāwhina Workforce Action Plan 2020-2025 here

Priority Networks

To gain broad sector engagement and input to each of the five Priorities a network of people and organisations has been established to form interest-based groups with a commitment to the common agenda for the actions and outcome for a particular Priority.

Supported by the Kaiāwhina Workforce Action plan Programme Team, the networks will involve virtual hui approximately two-monthly to gain guidance and advice on actions and to organise specific topic groups/forums to progress items.  Members of the networks bring their knowledge, skills, connections, influence and passion to the work programme for their Priority.

Networks will be adaptive and flexible, with membership evolving in line with a specific mahi ensuring forward momentum and the diversity of voices at the [virtual] table.

We welcome interest from the workforce and other sector stakeholders to help shape and influence the output of Plan’s work. If you would like more information on the Kaiawhina Workforce Action Plan or how to be involved please contact us at

Mā te whiritahi, ka whakatutuki ai ngā pūmanawa ā tāngata
Together weaving the realisation of potential