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
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.