Lance O'Sullivan

Dr. Lance O'Sullivan, 41, from Kaitaia, Northland is considered by many to be one of the decade's most inspirational role models medicine, healthcare and for Maori. With a courageous vision to eradicate all poverty-related illnesses, Lance has significantly changed the opportunities and improved access to basic healthcare in Northland, particularly for youth.

As a general practitioner first in Rotorua and then in Northland, Lance saw the harrowing impacts of poverty on the health and wellbeing of families and set on a tireless course to instigate change. Committed to ensuring equal access to care for all, Lance and his wife Tracy set up a free health clinic named Te Kohanga Whakaora ("The Nest of Wellness") at Kaitaia Hospital, late in 2012.

With a patient-centred philosophy, Lance is committed to the community having a say in how his clinic runs.  Ensuring flexible hours and payment, Lance is turning the head on traditional medical models and making a real difference in the lives of people.

Lance was instrumental in setting up the school-based MOKO Programme (Manawa Ora, Korokoro Ora or Healthy Heart, Healthy Throat) at Kaitaia Primary, the first full-time, school-based health clinic in Northland. It aims to provide medical care for 2,000 children at the 14 primary and intermediate schools within 25km of Kaitaia, with nurses and community health workers visiting each school three times a week.

Lance's Kainga Ora ("Well Home") programme fixes run-down homes, originating from his realisation that wellness begins in warm safe homes and not endlessly writing out prescriptions for illness. With a door to door approach, Lance's unyielding compassion means that he and his supporters will not rest until every child in the community lives in a healthy environment.

As a role model for other doctors and the greater community, Lance has the ability to make others feel courageous and encourages innovative thinking and approaches to addressing complex problems.  He has built partnerships across different agencies and with politicians in order to deliver new services and care system-wide and has trained dozens of medical students to cement a new ethic of practice into future generations.

Ensuring an ethic of 'walking the talk', Lance is a regular competitor in the triathlon and Ironman events and brings his community with him. He encouraged over 200 people in Kaitaia to take up the Ironmaori challenge last year, which is helping to promote a culture of healthy living and exercise.

Beyond his community, Lance is involved in regional and national population health events. This includes helping promote the Pharmac One Heart Many Lives programme and the more recent drive to eradicate rheumatic fever in the region.

Lance is passionate about contributing to Maori and Pacific health gains. He is particularly passionate about issues facing men's health and the risks involved in unhealthy living, poor diet and no exercise.

For his remarkable achievements and fervent mission, Lance was announced winner of the Health section for Maori of the year and then to the supreme Award for Maori of the Year/Nga Toa Whakaihuwaka on Waitangi Day 2013.

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