Featured Doctor

TAYLOR, Dr Tane Arataki

New Zealand - family doctor

He aha te mea nui o te Ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?
     It is people! It is people! It is people
! – Maori Proverb   

Introducing Dr Tane Taylor

Dr Tane Taylor is a family doctor, GP teacher, primary care consultant - working as a general practitioner, mostly in South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. His family origins are that he is Tainui, Te Arawa, Takitimu, English & Scottish descendent.

Recently retired from six years as chair of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ (RNZCGP) Maori faculty: Te Akoranga a Maui, Dr Taylor is a Distinguished Fellow of the College and a former member of its Board of Education and Council. He is an honorary senior lecturer with the University of Auckland, examiner and assessor of the GP Fellowship Training programme and senior assessor for the RNZCGP’s Cornerstone Practice Accreditation Programme. He also holds a Diploma in Obstetrics (Auckland), and FACNEM.

Tane is a consultant to East Tamaki Healthcare Group (ETHC) and Advisor to the Centre for Advanced Medicine Ltd in Auckland. He was Chief Clinical Advisor at Raukura Hauora O Tainui, a Maori health provider, before his current appointment.

Current work focus – indigenous peoples’ health

Tane’s current focus is on bridging the health gap between those who have, and those who have not. "In New Zealand, those who have not commonly are our indigenous and minority groups and those living in lower socioeconomic areas."  He believes filling this gap is a matter of justice.

Not only that, if we get things right for our indigenous peoples, we get things right for everybody. The way I see it is to increase the value of your house, you first repair what will bring you the greatest value, or return on your investment. If the roof leaks you fix that first not redecorate the living room. In health we can be so busy rearranging furniture, buying curtains and light fittings that we have lost sight of the fact that the hard and costly to fix roof will, in the end, be the ruin of the entire house"

Every country in the world has communities of people who are not receiving the kind of quality health care they are entitled to, this is not a dilemma faced by New Zealand alone, nor even by just one or two continents, it is a worldwide phenomenon – a hard nut that no one has cracked and only a few seem willing to try.

Tane’s work with one of the largest primary care organisation in New Zealand, ETHC, is focused on delivering affordable high-quality healthcare to high-needs populations. To be successful this work requires creative, divergent thinking and compassion.

WONCA involvement

Dr Taylor is scheduled to run a workshop on indigenous and minority groups’ health at the WONCA 2013 Prague 20th World Conference in June. He is currently leading the WONCA Asia Pacificregion Indigenous and minority groups health issues subcommittee.

The WONCA Mission is to promote equity through the equitable treatment, inclusion and meaningful advancement of all groups of people, yet the health of indigenous people is not specifically addressed. It is time to change this.”

It is his goal to follow in the footsteps of WONCA’s women family doctors who raised their issue on an international scale and worked to ensure that what WONCA members said they would do, and they did.

Just as he initiated the first meeting of Maori doctors in New Zealand, that subsequently grew into the Maori Medical Practitioners’ Association, Tane is now working to establish a WONCA indigenous health working party.

Dr Taylor’s other career interests

GP teaching and integrated health options

With a great interest in undergraduate and postgraduate education and professional standards, Tane is also a GP teacher and examiner. He is a strong believer that medical students can and do play a significant role in the continued learning of general practitioners and the art of general practice itself.

In 2007, he introduced student training at ETHC, and the programme is a great success; it makes medical practice safer, more efficient and enjoyable. “Being involved in the students’ daily work improves staff self-worth and makes everyone more willing to change and learn.

Integrated health centre founder and advisor

Tane has an interest in integrative modalities that are evidence based. He lectures both nationally and internationally on these issues.

How he came to work in general practice

New Zealand-born, the young Tane lived in communist Albania from the age of seven until he was 27, and was to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a dentist. However, upon his father's advice not to do so, he trained as a doctor. At the time of specialising in surgery, Tane, his Albanian wife and four-year-old daughter, fled the country to make a new life in New Zealand.

In order to be able to practice in New Zealand, Tane had to pass New Zealand registration examinations. He took a while to get used to a new examination process before spending time in the public hospital system and then finally deciding on general practice.

When he’s 'off the radar'

Tane indulges himself in watching basketball, playing golf, travelling, strong coffee and hearty food! He admits his mind is never really switched off from his work, he is in constant search to find ways to improve health systems. His overriding pleasure is being a provider for his family; seeing his wife and three adult daughters happy, brings him the most joy.

Follow Tane on Twitter: @tanetaylor1

Editor's note: Tane is pronounced Tāne

News May 2013