The Human Rights and Nursing Award 2021 was awarded to only two nurses worldwide. Nuku was recognised for her contribution to human rights and equitable care for indigenous nurses and the wider Māori community, as an advocate, activist and researcher.
In the November ceremony she said she worked for an organisation, NZNO, which was on a bicultural journey. This meant creating positive outcomes for Māori: “Not just for nurses, but for our whānau that die too young, who don’t get access to services.”
The audience at the Eastern Institute of Technology, and on Zoom, included distinguished academic and lawyer Moana Jackson. He said he was proud to know Nuku, and wished her and Māori nurses well during COVID-19 times.
The pandemic brought out the best and worst in people. “The institutional racism we’ve had to struggle against so long has reared its head again … and the sad fact that most of the deaths in this country are our people, is an indictment really.”
Te Matau-a-Māui Regional Council, who hosted the event, nominated Nuku for the award.