Dr Jason Tūhoe: advocate for te reo revitalisation 

7 August 2020

One of Dr Jason Tuhoe’s great passions is supporting the revitalisation of te reo Māori, the Māori language, a role he undertakes in his everyday general practice and as a Board member of Te Whare Tāhuhu Kōrero o Hauraki, an iwi organisation delivering wānanga reo (Māori language programmes).

“Several of my clinic consultations in Tokoroa are conducted entirely in te reo, especially for my older patients as speaking their first language is more natural, it puts them at ease, and helps me deliver better, more holistic care,” says Jason.

“My whānau, particularly my wife Jamie-Lee were another reason I stayed at medical school because without their aroha, support, and motivation I wouldn’t have been able to do everything I’ve done. My wife is a General Surgical Registrar who has recently completed her PhD in General Surgery, and we have three young children so it’s a lot to juggle – whānau support makes that possible.

Jason (Hauraki, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Pikiao) has recently been named deputy chair of Te Akorangi a Māui, the College’s Māori representative group. Before that he was the College’s Board Apprentice from 2019-2020, a role he says helped him see how strategic planning happens, how different priorities are enacted, and how the College influences and advocates for health and communities to help people achieve wellness.  It was also a role he says helped him grow in confidence and honed his expertise in governance. 

When Jason was 14 his grandad died suddenly on his last day of work. “At the time there was a lot of heart disease and cancer in our family and there was a feeling of real uncertainty for me. At school I studied physics and chemistry by correspondence and combined with the health issues in our whanau, that was what led me to study medicine.” 

Although Jason was Dux of his school, he credits the Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme (MAPAS) and the conversation and support of Dr Colin Mantell as one of the reasons he stuck with med school. Dr Mantell has been credited with helping increase the number of Māori and Pacific health professionals, which may have been by single-handedly calling them all to inspire them, then advocate for them.

“My whānau, particularly my wife Jamie-Lee were another reason I stayed at medical school because without their aroha, support, and motivation I wouldn’t have been able to do everything I’ve done. My wife is a General Surgical Registrar who has recently completed her PhD in General Surgery, and we have three young children so it’s a lot to juggle – whānau support makes that possible.

Jason says it was the GP life that chose him, not the other way around. “I saw during my training that general practice is about relationships and I couldn’t get that in the same, meaningful way in a hospital,” he says. 

He also credits the mentorship of Dr James Te Whare and Dr Jacqueline Allan with getting him into general practice and shepherding him into a year working in palliative care.

Today he works in Tokoroa, a town that famously couldn’t get doctors where he values working with the local community and being a part of helping his patients improve their wellness. 

Dr Jason Tuhoe becaome a Fellow of the College in 2016, when he also delivered the Peter Anyon address at the Conference for General Practice.

In 2017 he was the Māori and Rural GP Representative for the Rural General Practitioners Chapter.