It is with a heavy heart that co-hosts of the New Zealand Primary Healthcare Awards | He Tohu Mauri Ora awards have cancelled the awards for 2023.
Last year’s gala night celebration of the 2021 awards was one of the most joyous occasions for the sector in recent years.
The awards night on 15 May struck a window in the pandemic – it followed a COVID-free summer and preceeded the Delta outbreak. And, although everyone knew more was coming, that window provided a space to celebrate how primary had risen to the challenge of the pandemic; to celebrate excellence and innovation in the sector.
Health minister Andrew Little and associate minister Peeni Henare were among the dignitaries there on the night to pay tribute to the finalists and winners.
Much has changed since then, say the co-hosts The Health Media and Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand.
In January, they took the decision to postpone the 2022 awards. Then, primary care was anticipating the influx of Omicron.
“Now, as a further wave hits the country, we can only hope that come September, when the awards would have launched, people will be starting to feel some relief. What we do know is the sector should not be thinking about award entries.
“People are exhausted – we do not want to add to the burden they already carry,” says The Health Media co-owner Barbara Fountain.
She thanks the sponsors who, “almost from the moment the music stopped at last year’s awards”, stepped up to support the next event. “The awards were impossible without such support.”
“And to the sector at large – to pharmacists, GPs, nurses, NPs, midwives, managers, Māori providers, Pacific providers and suppliers – a big thank you, especially to those who put in entries for the 2022 awards, which we planned to hold over for next year. We are sorry the event will not go ahead.
“There will be a time to celebrate. But not quite now.”