Fepulea'i Margie Apa sets goal for a healthy Counties Manukau
(Picture caption: Distinguished guests celebrate the appointment of the new Chief Executive of Counties Manukau Health Fepulea'i Margie Apa at a powhiri on September 3. From L to R: Monique Faleafa, Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio, Vui Mark Gosche, Fepulea’i Margie Apa, MPP Chief Executive Laulu Mac Leauanae and Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa.)
Working with people with a deep desire to improve the health of New Zealanders - despite differing opinions on how to do it - is a huge drawcard to the health sector for new Chief Executive of Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) Fepulea'i Margie Apa.
Born in Auckland, and raised in Clover Park, which is now part of Flat Bush in Counties Manukau, Margie is at home in this part of New Zealand and her new role is a good fit.
“I grew up in this area and, you might say, I know the good the bad and the ugly that gives me a sense of pragmatism about how we go about doing our job.”
Margie has been working in the New Zealand health sector for almost 20 years, including at the Ministry of Health and as an executive at Capital and Coast District Health Board.
She started her early career in public policy working for central agencies, before starting her journey in the health sector as a Project Manager and Funder.
“I have been hooked ever since,” Margie says.
“I love that there is a direct relationship between the work we do and the impact on people, patients and communities - sometimes the impact on outcomes (in particular population health) take a long time to be visible.
“But mostly I enjoy the people who work in health – everyone I have worked with has a desire to improve the health of New Zealanders – even though we may not always agree how to do it.”
With nearly two decades of experience in health policy and funding, service change and health management, Margie brings plenty to offer Counties Manukau Health.
“I also bring experience in broader social policy and how health and social sectors can work together better.”
Margie has worked with many national and local clinical leaders, and health professionals, to help them achieve what they believe is important for their patients and the communities they serve, she says.
“Many of our most vulnerable citizens need better joined-up responses between health and social care.
“For this particular role, I also bring an insight of Counties Manukau communities and its people.”
On Monday, September 3, Margie was officially welcomed into her new role at CM Health during a powhiri which blended Māori and Samoan protocol and custom, led by Mana Whenua with a spirit of generosity, respect and aroha by and for the CM Health whānau, the Apa whānau and supporters, kaumaatua, Ministers, dignitaries and honoured guests.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio, and Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Chief Executive Laulu Mac Leauanae were present to celebrate Margie’s new appointment.
The Chief Executive role was previously held by Geraint Martin until his resignation in April 2017, and Chief Medical Officer Gloria Johnson has been Acting Chief in the meantime.
She will return to her role now Apa is on-board.
With an in-depth knowledge of CM Health and what the organisation is capable of achieving, Margie has set some goals and has a plan of attack on how to go about putting them in place.
“We’ve had a bit of battering in the media and I would like to rebuild the confidence and trust our Board, staff and the communities can have in our leadership,” Margie explains.
“We have significant population growth that will put pressure on our services – in a difficult fiscal environment and we need to strengthen the resources available to our frontline teams so they feel better supported.
“This includes getting on with capital investment that adds capacity, implementation of tools (for example, workforce development and IT) to reduce that pressure.”
She adds there is also the need to tap into the creative and vibrant energy of the Counties Manukau communities, who have lots of ideas about how they and we can work together to improve health.
“Improving Māori health and achieving equity for those most vulnerable is a key priority for the Government and the Board and it is also one that our teams believe in.
“Achieving equity isn’t just about ticking boxes or the short term gratification of hitting targets.
“Equity is being mindful of the humanity in ensuring that all our community can fulfil their potential supported by accessible healthcare – we leave no one behind.”
Margie is excited about the challenge ahead and says it is a privilege to be able to bring her many years of experience to serve in an important role in the very community she grew up in.
"This role has all the head, heart and soul elements that are important to me."