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Brash Statement Lacks Understanding

25 February, 2005

Don Brash Statement Lacks Understanding of Treaty Relevance to Nursing

The Nurses Organisation says comments made by National Party leader Don Brash today about the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi to nurses and other occupational groups show a lack of understanding of the Treaty’s relevance to nursing practice.

“When Don Brash says groups such as nurses do not need to subscribe to a particular view of what the Treaty implies in a way he is right. Of course nurses hold different views on the implications of the Treaty as they are entitled to,” said NZNO Professional Services Manager, Joy Bickley-Asher.

“But what his statement fails to acknowledge is how important it is that nurses’ views are based on a sound, educated and moral understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi, because without this understanding they are likely to practise in a culturally unsafe way. “

Joy Bickley-Asher said these practices could include exclusion from treatment or delayed or ineffective treatment, resulting in an earlier death or a greater degree of disablement of Maori patients.

“All of these, of course, contribute to higher overall health care costs,” she said.

Joy Bickley-Asher said that nurses required Treaty training in order to care for Maori effectively. They also needed education in cultural safety. Both were standard components of the undergraduate nursing education curriculum in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

“Furthermore, NZNO and Te Runanga o Aotearoa NZNO, the group representing Maori NZNO members, regard the Treaty to be the founding document of Aotearoa/New Zealand,” she said.

“They acknowledge the Treaty as a living document. The NZNO policy on education has for over 10 years committed nurses to practise with respect to the Treaty of Waitangi, honouring governance, self-determination, equity and spiritual freedom for Maori. NZNO members consider this commitment critical to meeting the health needs of New Zealand society”.


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