Maori Student Nurses Annual General Meeting 2013

  • Tariana Turia

E te iwi e tau mai nei ki Te Whakatu, ki te tautoko i tenei kaupapa whakahirahira hei oranga mo to tatou iwi, tena ra koutou katoa. Ngati Kuia, Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama, Te Atiawa, Ngati Koata, Ngati Toa Rangatira – koutou katoa o Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Maui, nei ra te mihi ki a koutou.

It is with great pleasure that I speak here today at this Hui a Tau for Maori Student Nurses.

I would like to acknowledge Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Maori o Aotearoa chair, Sharon Christie and Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui Kaunihera Neehi Maori Chair, Lewis Boyle. Tēnā kōrua.

Your theme, ‘rangahau kaupapa Maori me te rongoa’ couldn’t be more appropriate. What is it that will heal us, will lift us, will keep us warm, and build our strength?

You are uniquely placed to make a significant contribution to the health and well-being of our people as student nurses who are also Maori. The qualifications you will achieve as nurses will be coupled with the rich cultural asset that comes with being tangata whenua with a unique perspective on how services can be delivered appropriately.

Over twenty years ago, in 1991, the Nursing Council of New Zealand set a requirement that 20% of the Comprehensive Registration should be concerned with cultural safety. Their expectation was that nurses would not only be academically and clinically competent; legally and ethically safe; but they also had to demonstrate they were culturally safe.

Throughout consultation, tangata whenua stated quite clearly – this was not about studying the habits and customs of the ‘natives’ as though nurses were now armchair anthropologists.

At its very core, cultural safety required nurses to be open-minded and flexible in their attitude towards other cultures; as well as encouraging them to examine their own cultural realities – in other words, knowing who you are – and how your culture impacts upon other people.

I am so proud of the commitment that the nursing profession has made towards cultural competency. I would also like to pay tribute to the late Dr Irihapeti Ramsden, a nursing educator who also, ironically while dedicating her life to the health and well-being of others, was taken by breast cancer. Irihapeti was known internationally for her work on cultural safety in the workplace and we owe it to Irihapeti for the influence she has had on nurse training.

I hope that in your training you feel compelled to celebrate and validate your own cultural knowledge and learning as best practice, just as much as other inputs that you will receive.

This hui is a fabulous opportunity to look at our own methods and means of healing and wellbeing.

What do we know about traditional Maori remedies we have always sought comfort from – mirimiri, the use of water to heal, karakia and ritenga, the application of physical rongoa?

We know that Whanau Ora is an holistic approach that takes on-board these traditional methods and contemporary methods of healing. But being healthy is more than this. Being healthy is also about having meaningful employment. It is about healthy housing – living in homes that enable us to thrive. It is about an education system that nurtures the aspirations of all its learners. It is about a justice system which eliminates the worst excesses of institutional racism from its midst. Whanau Ora is also about tino rangatiratanga - about taking control over our own lives and our futures.

As Maori student nurses – what can you do to encourage our whanau to believe in themselves?

How can you enable the individuals you work with, to understand how hauora is applied within a whanau context?

What support can you give to whanau to help ensure diabetes management involves the whole family? We must refocus our whanau on the importance of being collective - on ensuring that our first responsibility is to our whānau members. We must divest ourselves of the shackles of dependence and stand with pride to accept our responsibilities and obligations to one another first and not rely on providers of services to be de-facto whanau.

You are at a perfect place to think about what sort of difference you can contribute in the lives of whanau. That is the challenge facing all of us today. Na reira, ko te pae tawhiti, whaia kia tata. ko te pae tata, whakamaua kia tina! Seek the distant horizon until it becomes closer and grasp on to those horizons close to you. There is your destiny.

Tena tatou katoa.