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Tairāwhiti Community Voice

It’s hard to imagine the bright and bubbly woman in front of me was near death at one point. Tracy’s work at Tairawhiti Community Voice is led partly by her own experience, after a life threatening infection caused an injury to her brain twenty years ago. It was during her recovery that she noticed there were gaps in services and she was forced to advocate for herself, even just to get the sickness benefit. The stress of having to fight for what you need when you’re unwell can hinder your recovery. 

Tracy was lucky to have good family support, but some people don’t have that. People are given pamphlets in hospital when they’re discharged, says Tracy, which is helpful, but not so much when there’s  a lower level of literacy. Our health and social system is complex for anyone to navigate, and even the people working within those services can find it hard to know what services are available for their clients. 

Tairawhiti Community Voice (TCV) has been around since 1990 (when it was established as GISCOSS). In simple terms, TCV coordinate and facilitate hui between social services, and provide a monthly newsletter. Often there are no definitive lines between health and social services; in some cases they cross over.  Alzheimer’s NZ, Blind Low Vision NZ, and Deaf Aotearoa for example, are all social services for people with health differences or disabilities. 

When you consider the journey from hospital to GP to community nursing to social services, information can be lost between referrals. Especially when every service has a different way of storing and passing on information. Like, some use electronic referrals, some, fax (yes it still exists) and some verbally. Communication between all services is important for continuity of care and to prevent confusion for clients. 

Most of these smaller social services are based in Gisborne, but some are as far away as Hastings. It’s unsurprising that people often don’t even know they exist.

TCV organise monthly hui, getting all of the services together at the same table, to discuss news and issues in services and their referral system.  They keep the lines of communication open. Tracy tells me that a Muscular Dystrophy NZ rep drives from Napier to attend these hui and finds it beneficial to meet and share information with at least twenty other organisations around the same table. That goes for Workbridge too. 

To be honest when Tracy is telling me about some of these organisations I haven’t heard of them, even though they’ve been running locally for 30 years. That’s why Tracy thinks it’s important to have a monthly newsletter for services but also a social media page to keep the public updated and informed about different services and what is available to us. You can find them on Facebook. 

Tracy is always interested in hearing from people who have experience gaps in health or social services locally. If you’re looking for support with something and there is no service to suit that need, you’re welcome to pop into TCV.  

TCV hopes one day to be a part of a community hub with good accessibility and parking for people with disabilities, sharing with all of the smaller social services in one building. Such a place would be beneficial in times of emergency such as last years’ cyclone. A place where people can come if they don’t know where to go for help. One point of call and a more affordable way forward for smaller services reliant on donations and funding. 

TCV is currently on the look out for someone interested in local advocacy, and the social sector. You can find Tracy at Tairāwhiti Community Voice at 340 Palmerston Rd or email her on


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