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The Influencers: Peter Townsend

Te Papa Hauora Advisory Council
Independent Chair

Christchurch is home to some real superstars who are making contributions to their communities, recognised far beyond our city boundaries.

Two key players in Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct (TPH) have just received high recognition from their respective institutions.

Professor Gail Gillon, a founding member of the TPH Council, has received the University of Canterbury’s highest research honour for her internationally renowned work aimed at improving children’s learning and wellbeing, the UC 2020 Research Medal.

She is the founding Director of the UC Child Wellbeing Research Institute.

Her research is acclaimed here and around the world and is informing policies to reduce inequities in the New Zealand education system.

Professor David Murdoch, a TPH Council member and Dean of the University of Otago, Christchurch, has recently been awarded the University of Otago’s Distinguished Research Medal, the university’s highest honour.

He is a recognised world leader in the study, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases.

We can all be very proud of having such respected and acclaimed leaders in their fields living, working and researching in our city.

Te Papa Hauora has just hosted the Health Research Society of Canterbury’s 2020 poster event, an opportunity for researchers to display their research achievements and mix with fellow Canterbury researchers.

You can be sure that amongst those presenters, there are more outstanding leaders in research that will shine here in Christchurch and beyond.

TPH is planning to showcase more achievers in health throughout 2021, all of whom contribute to a remarkable regional health system.


The Influencers: Peter Townsend

Te Papa Hauora Advisory Council
Independent Chair

Too often in Christchurch and Canterbury we underestimate our performance and influence, as a city and a region.

We also have a tendency to understate our achievements. I think this comes from the natural conservatism of our people.

When you get outside Christchurch and look back in, it’s easy to gain an appreciation of all the good things
we have going for us.

Being conservative is not a bad thing, but there are times when a community needs to stand up and openly celebrate its place in
the world.

That time is now for greater Christchurch. We are poised on the edge of being recognised as a city of choice in New Zealand.

A special place where people choose to come to live because of what we have to offer.

Our high performing health sector is a vital ingredient in that mix of attributes. An important component of our health offerings is Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct.

Te Papa Hauora is unique.

Nowhere else in Aotearoa is there such strong collaboration between health providers, educators, researchers and commercial players in health.

The physical presence of the major players, juxtaposed to our main hospital and various health support services, gives us an opportunity to explore and share exciting new ways of doing things in health.

That is critical in our rapidly changing environment. We are just at the beginning of realising the potential of Te Papa Hauora.

It is something we can build on, take pride in, and celebrate now and into the future.


The Influencers: Peter Townsend

Te Papa Hauora Advisory Council
Independent Chair

The events of this year have brought the value of health into sharp focus.

They also placed unprecedented pressure on already stretched health, education and research resources.

In Canterbury, our health board is fighting to balance growing demand with financial constraints.

Organisations training our future health workers are facing, among other challenges, a large drop in international students.

Funding for life-saving research is harder to get. I am very proud of how our local health system has responded to extraordinary recent challenges.

When Covid-19 threatened New Zealanders, all parts of the system from laboratory workers to researchers joined the fight.

We were fortunate that key players in Canterbury’s health system already collaborate through the unique-in-New Zealand Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct.

It brings health-related organisations together to foster innovation and identify opportunities for improvement. For example, members run regular simulation exercises where students and working professionals practice different medical scenarios together to improve their performance when encountering them in real life.

They are working together to ensure the next generation of nurses are ready to meet changing patient needs and deliver more care in the community.

Today’s challenges are not going to disappear. New ones will undoubtedly emerge.

It just makes sense to work together to address them and improve outcomes for everyone. In Canterbury we are well positioned to do just that.