Housing quality and age are perceived by residents to be significant influences on the health of Ohura residents. The community has identified that the most prevalent health conditions are those associated with an aging community.
The number of aged community members leaving for warmer drier environments is notable to residents. Poor housing standards and damp homes without insulation, are also perceived to be factors effecting health outcomes. A significant proportion of Ohura residents rely on wood fueled heating.
“You see a lot of people leaving because they say their lungs aren’t good enough to stay here. It’s too cold and wet for them so they go to warmer places. It’s probably the non-insulation and damp homes and stuff. It is very, very damp in the wintertime here; we get a lot of fog and not much sun. Down on the old swamp area it’s very damp. Those that are a bit raised up are better.”
In addition to the above, access to health services is a compounding factor, seen to be leading to delayed treatment. Perceived barriers to timely healthcare include:
- The distance to Taumarunui,
- Access to out of district Waikato District Health Board services,
- A lack of midwives and Plunket nurses, and
- Long waiting times to see a local GP.
While some Ohura residents choose to access health care in New Plymouth (Taranaki DHB) as an alternative to the likes of Hamilton, both locations are over 2 hours travel away. Travel subsidies to access health care outside of the District, are perceived as difficult to access and the subsidy inadequate for the time it takes. Paying for fuel upfront and then claiming it back retrospectively contributes to the accessibility issue for some residents.
"It doesn’t repay you…It’s basically a whole day trip, so that’s a big ask of a whole community to go that far when they need that level of care.”
When asked of the health benefits to living in Ohura, participants agreed that the pace of life contributed to lower stress levels despite significant logistical challenges.