Ko Awatea is the Centre for Health System Innovation and Improvement for the Counties Manukau District Health Board(CMDHB). It sits at the heart of the DHB’s activities to improve value for money and to support the transformational change needed to keep pace with the demand for more and better health services managed within tight financial constraints.

Ko Awatea comprises a physical centre, the Ko Awatea Centre for Education and Innovation (a joint venture between CMDHB and AUT University, Manukau Institute of Technology, and the University of Auckland), the Health System Improvement Team, and three centres of excellence:

  • Centre for Workforce and Leadership Capability
  • Centre for Quality Improvement
  • Centre for Research, Knowledge and Information Management

In addition to its three education partners, Ko Awatea has strategic partnerships with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI), NHS Wales, and the Better Value Health Care.


Drawing together local and international knowledge, Ko Awatea (‘dawning of the first light’) has been formed to harness and generate the ideas and expertise needed to lead a systematic drive for value, excellence, and sustainability in health systems and patient care.

Nothing less than transformational change is required to meet the fundamental challenge of demand for healthcare services outstripping the ability to supply. Ko Awatea is privileged to have the mandate, facilities, staff, colleagues, and partners needed to define and lead that transformation. To achieve our vision of excellent, sustainable healthcare and optimal population health, we know that healthcare must be a shared goal, responsibility, and activity for everyone in Counties-Manukau. Ko Awatea is committed to collaborating with the entire population so that, together, we can achieve this vision.


Ko Awatea delivers health system innovation and improvement services to both internal (CMDHB) and external clients (such as community healthcare services providers and other DHBs).

In addition to expert response services that solve specific problems, Ko Awatea performs work that addresses long-term, systems-level challenges. This work covers:

  • Workforce development – to educate and grow fit-for-purpose capability
  • Quality improvement – to measurably improve the quality of patient care
  • Knowledge management – to predict challenges and opportunities; to prioritise, cultivate, and tune knowledge; to promote and develop systems thinking
  • Pragmatic research – to expand, test, and track knowledge

This breadth of work is reflected in our key programs and campaigns, which include:

  • Grow Our Own Workforce – a program to develop a ‘seamless pipeline’ from education through to health sector employment of a workforce that reflects the Counties-Manukau community.
  • LEARN – an e-Learning system with dozens of interactive courses.
  • Aiming for Zero Patient Harm – a Centre for Quality Improvement campaign to employ evidence-based interventions to improve patient safety.
  • Target CLAB Zero – a Health System Improvement Team national collaborative to prevent Central Line Associated Bacteraemia (CLAB) in Intensive Care Units.
  • 20,000 Days – a Health System Improvement Team campaign to implement eight key changes in how the health system works to ensure we keep people well and at home, thereby ‘saving’ 20,000 days in hospital.

Through the Ko Awatea Centre for Education and Innovation, a joint venture between CMDHB and its education partners,  Ko Awatea delivers thousands of clinical training sessions and learning and development workshops to participants from nursing, medicine, mental health, midwifery, non-clinical, and students. Also through its partnership with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Ko Awatea delivers a range of professional development courses focused on quality improvement and leadership.

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Last modified: Tuesday, 26 May 2015, 9:59 AM