Opening of Te Ohanga Mataora Paetahi

  • Tariana Turia

The organizers of this opening had exquisite timing.

If we were to ever wonder what te ohanga mataora would look like, the living face of wellness, it would be through the last few days of Te Matatini and the living memories of the Maori Battalion in Whanganui.

Wellness is about pride, respect for traditions, custom and practice. It is about integrity and care. Wellness is inextricably linked to our past while at the same time it is equally about our future.

Today we celebrate the importance of mana motuhake. Our right to determine our own pathway forward as tangata whenua, the indigenous people of this whenua.

Te Ohanga Mataora Paetahi - the Bachelor of Health Sciences Maori (Nursing) - is the first and only accredited indigenous kaupapa nursing programme in the whole of Aotearoa - indeed the whole of the world and it is being delivered through Te Whare Wananga a Awanuiarangi, a kaupapa Maori institute.

It is exciting and innovative.

Te Ohanga Mataora Paetahi is a testament to a group of Maori nurses who are all trained in mainstream, but who had a vision of quality and excellence for tangata whenua.

A group who wanted Maori nurses to do more than just train and be certificated, these visionaries knew that these indigenous nurses would represent the investment in kaupapa and tikanga tuku iho, and therefore provide the protection much needed for our people in the health system.

We will see the outcomes not only in a confident, competent workforce, but also in the faces of our whanau who will no doubt be taken care of in a culturally competent and safe manner. Our people deserve nothing less. Only the very best will do.

The investment made by the Maori nurses organization, Nga Ngaru Hauora and Awanuiarangi, will be returned tenfold through the success of the graduands.

It is also timely to mihi to all those early pioneers of Te Kaunihera o nga Nehi Maori o Aotearoa back in 1983, who sought to create a Maori nursing workforce.

Kei te mihi atu kia koe te kuia Putiputi O'Brien, the patroness of Te Kaunihera me koutou hoki nga neehi Maori.

It has taken twenty-five long years for the dream to be realized.

I want to pay tribute to Te Awanui-a-Rangi for partnering with Maori nurses and Nga Ngaru Hauora to enable this course to be delivered. Congratulations must also go to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Nursing Council of New Zealand for the accreditation of this exciting and innovative degree programme.

This is not a trial programme - nor is it an experiment.

The architects and designers of Te Ohanga Mataora have met all the criteria to achieve accreditation; to produce a nursing degree curriculum that will result in a Bachelor of Health Science Maori nursing degree.

The outcomes of this programme bear the influence of Te Kawa Whakaruruhau - and I know that Dr Irihapeti Ramsden is as proud today as we all are, that the ideology of cultural safety lives on in our hearts and minds as an important tool not only for nursing but across all institutions that provide services to people of differing cultures.

I am so pleased that this programme is not fixated on managing disease or focused purely on clinical measures.

Those who graduate from Te Ohanga Mataora Paetahi will have gained valuable insights about the integral connectedness between Papatuanuku, awa, maunga, ngahere, moana and many other facets of Te Ao Maori me Te Ao Tauiwi.

This will give graduates the ability to work in any setting.

My hope is that the authors and drivers of this great development continue to have oversight to maintain the quality and integrity of this degree.

In fact, if I didn't already have a day job, I would be tempted to apply myself! I began nursing on leaving school, met my husband and never completed my training - however 46 years later I think I made the right choice.

This is a fantastic foundation being laid today for our future health and wellness. It is absolutely important the quality of the training is not compromised; and that the level of support the programme receives acknowledges the distinctive contribution it will make to outcomes at many levels.

I am absolutely delighted to learn that the wananga has set a conservative target of at least thirty Maori nursing students registered per year.

No other tertiary training institute can lay claim to such an achievement, and this is a key point of difference that distinguishes Te Ohanga Mataora Paetahi.

I pledge to you today, my commitment as both the Associate Minister of Health and the Co-leader of the Maori Party, to watch over the development of Te Ohanga Mataora Paetahi.

The investment in creating effective, competent and confident practitioners who are comfortable in both te Ao Maori and te Ao Tauiwi, is an investment in our future; it is an investment in the big picture; it is an investment in whanau and hapu; it is an investment in Aotearoa.

It is about celebrating the living face of wellness; it is about being Maori.

I wish you all great strength and courage as you lay the groundwork for a much better future for us all.

Tena tatou katoa.