Please keep reading online – for nursing

December 1, 2021

This final print edition of Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand is a momentous moment in the publication’s 113-year history. It is, we suppose, an inevitability in this third decade of the 21st century.

Teresa O'Connor
Teresa O’Connor

Anne Manchester
Anne Manchester

But it poses some interesting questions that only “readers” – or whatever the correct nomenclature for those who browse online-only publications is – will be able to answer.

While the medium/method of publication may be changing, the principles and purpose of Kai Tiaki remain very close to what founder and inaugural editor, the indomitable Hester Maclean, wrote in her very first editorial: “It will be we hope a bond of union, a common interest, a means of communication, a mutual help, and a road to improvement in their professional work and knowledge, to all the nurses of the Dominion, besides forming a link between not only the nurses of New Zealand and the other parts of Australasia, but also uniting them to the members of their profession throughout the world.”1

It is still essential that New Zealand nurses have a journal that reflects the unique nature of the profession here – what drives it, what troubles it, what advances it, what holds it back. It is essential nurses have a publication which publishes reflections on their clinical practice – their research, their experiences, their stories, their views (whether the editors or the organisation agree with them or not). It is essential nurses have a magazine which places their work in a wider health, political and international context. And it is essential nurses have a publication which, in part at least, chronicles the work of NZNO, its staff and leaders.

And it is important that nurses remember that Kai Tiaki owes a debt to history to – as accurately as possible – record the events that have shaped and continue to shape the organisation and how it operates. It is said that journalists write the first draft of history, and it is important this draft is as accurate as possible. Kai Tiaki is not only a nursing magazine; its content also canvasses many political and social issues. We know how valuable Kai Tiaki has been to researchers of social history over the decades – that important resource must always be preserved.

It is essential nurses have a publication which publishes reflections on their clinical practice – their research, their experiences, their stories, their views (whether the editors or the organisation agree with them or not).

During the years we were co-editors (a combined total of nearly 55), we sometimes heard members say: “Oh, Kai Tiaki, I never read it,” or “I never take it out of its plastic wrapping”. These derisory comments reflect a worrying apathy in our profession. COVID-19, and the clinical practice and ethical issues it throws up, makes such apathy even more concerning. Nowhere else will our nurses get the comprehensive information about their profession and all that impacts on it. If nurses aren’t reading the magazine which reflects their unique practice context, we can bet they won’t be reading any other nursing magazines either. For all that, the last readership survey showed a very healthy readership, with nine out of 10 NZNO members reading their monthly printed Kai Tiaki.2

So, it is essential that our nurses continue to read/browse Kai Tiaki in its digital-only form to remain informed about their profession, its concerns and its wider context. We know the current co-editors are working extremely hard to ensure the digital version is as attractive and accessible as possible.

May Kai Tiaki, as an online-only publication, continue to reflect Maclean’s original vision. And may its readers continue to understand the importance of their publication in reflecting the importance of their profession.

We were privileged to have contributed to the outstanding legacy that is – and will continue to be – embodied in the pages (now files) of Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand – Aotearoa’s oldest continuously published magazine.

Teresa O’Connor was co-editor of Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand from 1992 to 2021 and Anne Manchester from 1995 to 2020.

References

  1. Maclean, H. (1908). The purposes of the journal. Kai Tiaki: The Journal of the Nurses of New Zealand, 1(1), 1-2.
  2. Stodart, K. (2019). Kai Tiaki widely read, with a clear interest in an online version. Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, 25(1), 12-13.