Strong NorthTec representation at nursing student hui

22 May 2019

Strong NorthTec representation at nursing student hui

The 15 NorthTec Māori nursing students attending this year’s Hui-a-Tau (annual conference) in Whakatane were the largest representation from NorthTec to attend the event yet.

NorthTec nursing lecturer, Pipi Barton, accompanied the group in a kaitiaki role, and said the greater student number this year was made possible by more funding. “We had funding from NorthTec’s Te Ara Poutama - Student Support Services and NorthTec nursing department, and the students themselves raised funds by selling 200 hangi and an Easter raffle.”

The three-day event held in early May involved an AGM, several speakers, and presentations and waiata from the participating students. Pipi said: “A prerequisite of students attending was that they were available for a presentation and waiata practice, and that in itself meant committing to eight weeks of Sunday practices prior to the hui.”

Each year the National Council of Māori Nurses organises this event to encourage and support Māori nursing students from all over New Zealand. It was hosted this year in Whakatane by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and Ngati Aw,a with accommodation at the wananga. Pipi said: “Both the manaakitanga (hospitality) and the accommodation were outstanding.  The students were welcomed onto the main Ngati Awa marae for a stunning light show that gave an outline of the area’s history, and later they went on a tour of the surrounding area.”

Pipi said that leaving family to travel for this event is a big commitment: “NorthTec has approximately 90 Māori nursing students from Wellsford north and they all have family or clinical study commitments, but we try and encourage as many students as possible to attend so having 15 this year was fantastic. About half of these were first year students encouraged by the tuakana (more senior students) and they were the largest representation there.”

Huhana Hemara, a third year nursing student, was attending the Hui-a-Tau for the third time, and this year stepped down after two years as Tai Tokerau student representative of Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Māori o Aotearoa (National Council of Māori Nurses). She said: “These events are so empowering for Māori student nurses. They give us the support, insight and role models to encourage us to step up as advocates for both Māori and non-Māori patients by bringing our values into the profession.

“This year’s theme was nurturing and using our natural skills inherent in tikanga Māori to nurture our peers, family and hapū. Simply being together with the speakers and other students also creates a really supportive bond. ”

Pipi said two of the standout speakers had a Te Tai Tokerau connection - Dr Lance O’Sullivan, well-known former Kaitaia GP, who video conferenced into the event, and Margareth Broodkoorn, recently appointed Chief Nursing Officer for the Ministry of Health and former Clinical Nurse Director for Northland DHB. “The students were especially inspired by Dr Sullivan who explained the emerging nurse-led clinic model, Manawa Ora, Korokoro Ora (MOKO) project, where in rural or remote areas, GPs ring in to consult with patients in a nurse-led clinic. He suggests it could be the future of nursing.”

Huhana was inspired too by the stories of mother and daughter, Peta Ruha and Aroha Ruha-Hiraka. “Peta, the Mum, has had 25 years’ experience in the mental health sector and is now the Principal Clinical Advisor to the Office of the Mental Health and Addiction Service of the Ministry of Health, and her daughter Aroha was the joint winner of the Young Nurse of the year. She works as a practice nurse in Kawerau at the moment but plans to continue her study and get a doctor’s degree.”

“It’s so uplifting to hear the stories of people who have changed and impacted lives at such a deep level and it empowers us to step into our version of that. We’re aware of the Māori health issues around socioeconomics, access and the resistance to engaging with the current system, and by becoming more informed we can be part of the necessary changes. We’ve all returned from the hui with a fresh perspective and more impassioned and empowered about our nursing study and careers.”

A sad but touching event immediately prior to the hui showed the students’ strength and commitment to each other. Pipi said: “A student’s house burnt down, and in a lovely support gesture, the other students who were going donated their own surplus funding as a koha to her and her whānau.”

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