Road to the back countryPublic domain by Bernard Spragg

Growing Rural Health - Tipu Haere Tuawhenua Hauora

A new book captures and celebrates the development of rural general practice in the last 30 years.

Approximately 19% of the population of Aotearoa New Zealand receive rural health care services. Seasonal workers, tourists, and other visitors passing through also need health care. However, distance and remoteness affect the accessibility, range and timeliness of rural health service provision. It is challenging and demanding to somehow provide care 24/7. The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network was established in 1992 for rural General Practitioners (GPs) to support one another and to advocate collectively for the provision of quality health care in rural New Zealand.

Professor Jean Ross at Otago Polytechnic is a long-term member of the Network and is passionate about rural health services. So much has changed in rural practice in 30 years, that she realised it was important to record developments, both to celebrate what had been achieved together and to provide a foundation from which to move forward into the future. She brought together the team of authors and an Editorial Board, and secured funding from the Network and Otago Polytechnic.

The authors - Jean herself, Tania Kemp (Ngā Mahanga o Tairi, Taranaki), Martin London and Shelley Jones - between them interviewed 46 people to capture many perspectives and all the milestones during the last 30 years. In addition, the 20 Peter Snow Memorial Award recipients were invited to contribute forward-looking reflections for the last chapter of the book. 

The New Zealand Rural GP Network has now become part of the Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network, which published the book Growing Rural Health | Tipu Haere Tuawhenua Hauora: 30 Years of Advocacy. The book was launched earlier this year at their 2022 conference dinner. It is a fitting tribute to the dedication of rural GPs to their communities.