Māori face significant challenges in accessing health services. Consequently, they are a high-risk group for poor health outcomes, with a relatively high burden of noncommunicable diseases. In terms of eye care, there is an unmet need of care for diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, cataract and uncorrected refractive error.
In a New Zealand first, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has partnered with nib to provide fully comprehensive private health insurance to the hapū members, funded entirely by the hapū.
The aim is to engage hapū members to access and use health services for early intervention, with a view to ultimately improving their health and wellbeing. It includes cover for surgical and non-surgical hospital treatment, as well as specialist care with ophthalmologists, GP visits and optical, allowing members to take a more holistic approach to managing their healthcare.
As part of the program, Specsavers has partnered with nib to provide the primary eyecare services for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
In doing so, for the first time ever, two adjustments have been made to the health insurance policy:
1) an eye test conducted by an optometrist is included as per specialist/GP consultations and is therefore fully funded under the policy; and
2) the ancillary cover of the policy includes a zero out-of-pocket expense for the provision of glasses or contact lenses.
As a result of the partnership, improved eye health outcomes will be achieved by:
  • Increasing the proportion of hapū members accessing regular eye tests and care
  • Streamlining care pathways through enhanced sharing of clinical information, reducing unnecessary duplication of tests and reducing the rates of hapū members lost to follow up in care journeys
  • Establishing the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and patient acceptability of co-management pathways for glaucoma involving community-based optometrists for ‘routine’ care and ophthalmologists for high-risk patients and surgical interventions


Central to the success of the program is system integration and improved patient access through service delivery coordination.
Oculo is being used to notify a nib Māori health worker when a patient is referred to an ophthalmologist, GP or other healthcare professional so they are aware that an appointment is pending and that the patient may require assistance.
This process has resulted in improved case management, improved appointment attendance and a smoother patient journey.
Furthermore, the integration of Oculo with the Specsavers’ patient management system is enabling data extraction, aggregation and analysis, which will be fundamental in quantifying health outcomes and determining the effectiveness of the program.


As the program is in its early stages, initial data on disease detection and patient outcomes is not yet available but, with the permission of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, will be available on Specsavers HealthHub in due course.
With over 750,000 New Zealanders identifying themselves as Māori, the potential of the program to expand and fundamentally change how healthcare is delivered to the Māori population is significant.