Hui creates five more Māori nurses

Hui creates five more Māori nurses

Five Māori student nurses from CPIT who attended the Hui-a-tau mo ngā tauira neehi Māori 2014/ National Māori Student Nurses Annual Hui last month have come back much richer for the experience, one of the participants, Mārie Hutana, says.

The presenters at the event, held at Te Tii Marae Waitangi on 6 to 9 May, were inspiring she said. “We had these amazing speakers, Māori nurses who are heads of District Health Boards, the Associate Minister of Health Turiana Turia, women with PhDs – it was inspiring seeing many Māori nurses in high positions and how far you can go in your career.

“Turiana in particular, is 70 years old and is as sharp as a blade.  As an adult student who will be 50 when I graduate that’s really encouraging! These women have done so well and gone so far. Their words, when things get tough, when exams are coming up, will keep me going.”

The hui was organised by the Te Kaunihera O Nga Neehi Māori O Aotearoa | National Council of Māori Nurses, which was established in 1983 because of a noticeable lack of Māori in nursing, dissatisfaction amongst Māori nurses and lack of acknowledgment of Māori cultural needs in nursing.

Members of the Māori student nurses association at CPIT were invited to attend. Hutana was initially reluctant because it meant missing four days of study, however she decided that the chance to connect with fellow CPIT tauira (students), two kaitiaki (tutors) and a kuia (elder) and to learn more about Māori healthcare was worth the extra effort.

“We keep hearing about the discrepancies of Māori health in New Zealand, such as the high incidence of diabetes and cardiac disease, low life expectancy and reluctance of many Māori to access healthcare. What can I do? Well, I might as well start at home. There are a shortage of Māori nurses in relation to the number of Māori patients. It could be what seems like a tokenistic gesture, but a carving on the wall, a Māori nurse or a friendly ‘kia ora’ - if that gets them through the door then that’s good.”

Being at the hui also confirmed for Hutana that she had chosen the right School of Nursing to study at. “There were, I don’t know, 200 student nurses from the north island and around the country. We were encouraged to connect, put into groups of first years and we talked together. I was so reassured that I chose the right school. At the end of our three years of study we all have to sit registration exams but how your school prepares you for the exams is up to them. After hearing from students from all over the country I am confident in CPIT. It’s intense, it’s hard, our workload is huge but CPIT graduates will be good nurses. We have been told that CPIT nurses are well sought after.”

Hutana, whose iwi is Ngai Tahu, also acknowledged the support CPIT had given to the students. “To understand why Māori health has so many discrepancies you need to look at the history of New Zealand. When there is funding for scholarships for Māori and so on, that is just trying to bring balance back. So yes, thank you to CPIT for helping us to attend this event. Just from that hui you have five more Māori nurses rather than five nurses who happen to be Māori.”