National | Nurses

Hundreds of Māori student nurses gather for 34th national annual hui

Hundreds of budding Māori nurses gathered at their national hui in Auckland this week, where some outlined their concerns about an already stretched nursing workforce.

The theme of the National Māori Student Conference, was ‘Mā te kotahitanga e whai kaha ai tātou katoa’, (Only in unity will we breed strength for all).

The 34th annual conference was held at Ngā Kete Wānanga marae, Manukau Institute of Technology.

Te Kaunihera o Ngā Neehi Māori tumuaki Jo Marino (Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa), says the conference helps breed connections for both students and practising nurses alike, and shares resources.

“It is the Māori nurses who will look after the students. They are the future.”

Naquoia Rakete (Ngāpuhi,Ngai Tai ki Tōrere), a student who attended the meeting from the South Island, says meetings like this have helped her transitioning journey from working on a dairy farm, to pursuing a career in nursing.

“There are a range of resources that are available to help Māori nurses. Māori nurse leaders and Māori meetings such as this are just some of the resources that help students who are going for their nursing certificate.”

Dwindling nurse numbers

Nurse numbers are dwindling around the country, with many nurses heading to Australia for the higher salaries there.

Rakete says the possibility of going to Australia is an option but only for a short period.

“The goal is to go there to learn new skills and return home to my iwi, to my hapu, as that is the ultimate goal.”

Other students say they would prefer practising in New Zealand as their main purpose of joining the profession is to care for their own.

“You don’t join nursing for the money. I think that’s the last thing on our minds,” one student says

“For me personally, I joined nursing to help my people and my people are here,” another says.

The students say the pressures aren’t just on Māori; because there are political pressures contributing to the decrease in nurse numbers.

Although there are shortages now, the number of students is on the increase.

Rakete says she encourages all Māori thinking of pursuing this profession, and to not worry as there are resources to help them.

“There are many groups, many Māori workers who support Māori nurses in New Zealand.”

Today was the last day for the students. The responsibility to host will then be handed to another region for next year’s conference.