NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku launched the Indigenous Nurses Aotearoa Conference 2021 with a call for nurses to relish their time at the event, held at Te Papa in Wellington.
Nuku said the conference, with a theme of heeding the call of the maunga, gave nurses a space where it was ok to be Māori, “a space where it’s ok to feel Māori”.
“That’s something that each and every one of us, working within the health system, doesn’t always get to feel, when we go to do our mahi.”
The conference was about inspiring nurses to “stop and take that breath”, to build whangaungatanga.
Nuku said she was privileged to be part of the Te Rūnanga tauira (student) session the previous day.
Back in the 1900s, Sir Apirana Ngata said the nation needed to raise an army of Māori nurses.
“So yesterday was inspiring because some of that vision was coming true – a room of potential nurses. Not just wahine, but an increased presence of male Māori in the room.”
It should not have taken more than 100 years to raise that army. “So the purpose of this hui is about listening to some inspirational speakers, putting a fire in the belly, and seeing how we can all be better advocates for our whānau, for our hapū, and for our iwi.”
COVID-19, and its prescriptive response, had limited the way Māori nurses could work.
“Yet if we had of raised that army… in the 1900s, one could say that we would’ve learned a lot better in our health-care system, and not have such restrictive policies applied to health practice to cope with the pandemic.”
The nurses should sit back and enjoy the hui and “be inspired”.
“The great thing about these conferences is we have so many inspirational speakers that we want to make notes, and then they become our inspirational words to other people who haven’t attended this hui.”
Nuku said there were students in the audience who had just found out they had passed their state final examinations.
“So there’s another Māori workforce coming. We need to make sure that we tautoko everybody… we will all be here to tautoko.”