‘Kerri Nuku needs to stick with nursing and leave history to the experts’

January 15, 2024

Kerri Nuku needs to stick with nursing and leave history to the experts.

Her comparison (in the NZNO blog post Seeds) of Israeli/Palestinian history with New Zealand/Aotearoa or South Africa is erroneous.

Podiatry image by valuavitaly on Freepik

[NZNO-Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa kaiwhakahaere] Nuku asks: “Why is Israel attacking Palestine?” Is she not aware it is the Islamofascist organisation Hamas that started this? It is a well-documented fact that Hamas is prepared to use its own civilians as human shields and accept the collateral damage of their own people for their sick Islamofascist aims.

What has Hamas done with all the international aid it has received over the years? They have built military complexes within the heart of civilian areas with no regard for their people.

And why blame the United States (US) for a situation created by the surrounding Arab states? These states benefit politically from having the festering sore of the Palestinians draining a Jewish nation that many in the Arab world would love to see annihilated. There is a lesson in genocide for her.

She regurgitates the same old post-colonial narrative with no regard for historical accuracy. Yes, we are all well aware of the broken promises and systematic dispossession and alienation of Māori under the British/colonial system.

However the fact remains, Māori are far better off now than what they were prior to the coming of the British. Māori population numbers are presently more than 800,000 compared to approximately 100,000 prior to the European arrival.

Māori, as a Stone Age culture, readily embraced the benefits of European society. Take modern medicine for instance. As a nurse and leader of the NZNO, she needs to give credit to the “colonial power” for that. If you are wanting to look for instances of genocide, she does not need to go far in looking at the brutal tribal history of Māori society.

She is also sadly lacking in her knowledge of Middle East history and the history of the Jewish people and their defence of their spiritual and historical homeland from Islamofascists like Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. Just research the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973. Each time the Arab states and Palestinians were the aggressors. Hence it is they who created the tragic refugee problem for the Palestinians.

Helen Mccrostie, RN,

Racial justice consultant Dr Heather Came replies:

Kerri Nuku is a well-respected international indigenous nursing leader, who has been representing Aotearoa on a global stage at a range of international fora for decades. She has strong indigenous networks and is deeply familiar with the power dynamics of colonisation and white supremacy.

Her credentials mean she is well placed to comment on the Palestine independence struggle and the current US-backed Israeli-led genocide which seems to be deliberately targeting hospitals, doctors and nurses.

The argument that Māori benefited from colonisation is fatally flawed. Māori land was systematically confiscated and alienated and there has been sustained attacks on te reo me ōna tikanga. Māori remain under-represented in senior decision-making roles across the public sector. Ethnic inequities persist across key social and economic outcomes particularly in health.

Māori population levels dramatically declined upon contact with Pākehā settlers due to the new diseases, weapons and legislation they introduced to Aotearoa. It took decades for the population levels to recover and expand.

The Waitangi Tribunal, a permanent independent commission of inquiry charged with investigating breaches of te Tiriti, in its Wai 2575 and COVID-19 reports, concluded that our health system (modern medicine) is failing Māori.

The Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 brutalised traditional rongoā practices within te ao Māori. The 1918 influenza epidemic saw Māori die at seven times the rate of non-Māori. Contemporary research shows that Māori whānau continue to receive poorer quality and quantity of care across our health system.

Colonisation always does considerable intergenerational harm to indigenous peoples. I encourage the letter writer to read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and anything ever written by Moana Jackson and to reconsider their position.

Heather Came (New Zealand Order of Merit) is an activist scholar at large. She is an adjunct professor at He Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington and runs consultancy Heather Came and Associates, focused on pursuing racial justice. She is a founding member of STIR (Stop Institutional Racism) and the Radical Sewing Circle social justice network, co-convenor of Te Tiriti-based futures anti-racism series and member of the NZ Public Health Association. She was invited to respond by Kaitiaki co-editors.

See also Kerri Nuku’s latest blog on te Tiriti o Waitangi: Toitu Te Tiriti.

Cultural safety, te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori health guidelines for all nurses from Te Kaunihera Tapuhi o Aotearoa Nursing Council of New Zealand can be found here.