Indigenous | Māori nurses

Māori nurses focus on whakapapa, push for recognition at indigenous nurses conference

Māori nurses are Reclaiming our whakapapa - mana o te wai at this weekend’s Indigenous Nurses Aotearoa Conference on Friday and Saturday in Tāmaki Makaurau.

“Our whakapapa connects us and grounds us to our tūrangawaewae, our whenua and our culture, and our rights to protect this taonga are imperative,” NZ Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa kaiwhakahaere Kerry Nuku said..

“Kōrero, waiata, mōteatea, haka or whakatuaki shared by whānau, hapū, and Iwi katoa each have their rhythmic expression to describe the timeliness of whakapapa or a celebration of the beauty of their whenua, acknowledgement of their tīpuna or other majestic beauties.”

Nuku said indigenous nurses had been historically disenfranchised by a system designed to keep them “on the sidelines”.

“Lower wages, fewer opportunities, lack of respect, passed over for promotions by virtue of being Māori are just some of the acts of prejudice indigenous nurses experienced in the past,” Nuku said on Thursday.

“As a consequence, at just over 4000, only about 7.5 percent of nurses in Aotearoa are Māori. Our nurse numbers continue to lag behind.”

She said making the system more culturally sensitive and more responsive to the needs of Māori communities offered an “obvious solution” to problems faced by indigenous people in Aotearoa.

“We need to turn this frustration into action and continue the fight of our whakapapa to push for recognition in a system that makes it difficult for us to even remain relevant.”

The Māori nurse awards - the Pharmac Tapuhi Kaitiaki Awards - will be hosted in tandem with the conference on Friday evening.

Some “truly exceptional” nurses and tauira had been recognised over the years through these awards, said Nuku, who was confident this year would be no different.

“Māori nurses are not only dedicated professionals but great innovators. The Kaitiaki Awards provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase their day-to-day mahi for the betterment of their people.”