National | Hauora

Tihei Mauri Ora nursing programme celebrates three decades

Wintec Te Pūkenga in Kirikiriroa is celebrating 30 years of its groundbreaking Māori nursing programme, Tihei Mauri Ora, on International Nurses Day.

The programme is focused on bringing Māori students, and recently Pasifika students, to complete their nursing programme, with an increased focus on Māori health, customs and protocols to achieve excellence representative of Māori culture.

It’s a dream first realised by teachers Becky Fox and Rewi Panapa at the then-named Waikato Polytechnic.

Alroy Walker and Jan Liddell have also been helping with the programme, with Liddell’s involvement spanning 21 years.

Walker says it’s about creating a safe space for Māori to learn and help decrease troubling health outcomes for Māori. His involvement, spanning three years, has been to help in whānau support for students and using tools for traditional practices.

“[Becky and Rewi] travelled around the motu asking and approaching different nursing schools if they would be happy to have Becky’s dream established in their institutes,” Liddell says.

High graduation rate

“The late Dr Hare Puke [kaumātua for Waikato Polytechnic] had opened a consultation with the wider Tainui who accepted the dream. It was established here and Hare gave the name of the dream Tihei Mauri Ora.”

However, Jan says there were still barriers and obstacles challenging the programme.

“Not everyone supported the kaupapa in its early years, with calls that it was separatism. Some staff left because of it but the programme went from strength to strength, with many of its graduates going on to hold key positions of influence in the sector over the years.”

Liddell says the programme has seen a high graduation rate, and those who graduate go on into leadership roles across many health establishments.

Celebrations last night were to include students past and present, as well as those who supported the programme from the beginning.

Public Interest Journalism