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Kai Tiaki Nursing: A Century of Nursing Journalism

New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Media Release
28 January 2008

Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand: A Century of Nursing Journalism

Work/life balance is a popular catch cry today. But it would have been anathema to the founding editor of the country’s national nursing magazine, Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, which celebrates its centenary on Thursday. Indomitable Australian nurse Hester Maclean established the magazine in January 2008 and it has been in continuous publication ever since, making it one of New Zealand’s oldest publications.

Just a year after founding the magazine, Maclean was moved to comment: “A long period off duty, such as 24 hours, at the end of each week or fortnight with an ordinary working day of ten to twelve hours, is more beneficial to nurses than eight hours every day. The nurse who does not come on duty till 2pm or lolls in bed (as we have seen) is not going through good discipline as a working woman; work should always come first, play afterwards, and play can be much more keenly enjoyed when there is a sense of duty well done.”

Given these sentiments, Maclean would have been appalled at provisions targeted to help nurses achieve a better work/life balance and to create a safer working environment in the 2007 collective employment agreement between NZNO and district health boards.

On Thursday (January 31), Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand will celebrate a century of recording and leading debate in New Zealand’s nursing profession with the official launch of a special centennial issue in Wellington. This will be attended by nursing leaders from around the country, along with the members of NZNO’s board of directors, and current and former editors.

The special issue has also been distributed to NZNO’s 40,000 members.

Helping to capture the significance of the occasion will be actor Ginette McDonald, taking the role of Hester Maclean. Maclean was appointed to the government role of assistant inspector of hospitals and deputy registrar of nurses and midwives in New Zealand in 1906. She was editor of Kai Tiaki for its first 25 years and is recognised as one of the key figures in the history of the development of nursing in this country.

“For 100 years, Kai Tiaki has been the best vehicle for communicating New Zealand nursing wisdom, learning, practice and opinion to New Zealand nurses,” the journal’s present editors Teresa O’Connor and Anne Manchester say. “We, like Hester Maclean, owe a debt to history to ensure we present a real, not a sanitised version of events. Although some reportage and articles published during the last few years have caused some discomfort and disagreement, that is as it should be, for nursing is not and never has been a homogeneous profession.

“It is fascinating to observe, through the pages of the journal, how the past can bring a fresh perspective on the present. Much has changed in the nursing profession, but much has stayed the same as well,” say O’Connor and Manchester.

The issue features two award winning essays: a 4000-word clinical research article on nursing care of technology-dependent children and a 2000-word essay on the importance of writing for publication. There is also an article by nurse historian Pamela Wood examining Kai Tiaki’s historical lens; “Down the decades”, a collection of news items, advertisements and comments capturing the essence of former nursing eras; tributes from nursing leaders and former editors; and a timeline of significant dates in the history of the journal and nursing.


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