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Turia: Maori Nurses and Midwives forum

Maori Nurses and Midwives forum;
Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa, Hamilton
Friday 19 March 2010; 10.15am
Hon Tariana Turia; Associate Minister of Health
E nga mana o tenei whenua, tena koutou.
Ko nga awa o Whanganui, o Whangaehu hoki e mihi atu nei ki te awa o Waikato. Mihi mai, mihi mai.
E nga iwi e huihui nei, tena koutou katoa.

This is a most auspicious day to be speaking with Maori nurses and midwives about whanau ora.

Who better than to understand whanau ora, than those who carry the honour of welcoming new life into the world?

Indeed one could say that those within the Maori nursing sector and our midwives are the ultimate whanau ora practitioners.

Whanau in its most literal sense is to be born of, to give birth. Ora is that sense of being alive, being awake, the potential unleashed, the life force energized.

We, who are born of our maunga, our awa, our moana, tupuna; know full well the difference between wellbeing and disease; between development and deficits; between potential and problems.

This week has seen a very special celebration of the work that Lady Raiha Mahuta and Tukuroirangi Morgan have done on behalf of Tainui, in caring for the wellbeing of the river and therefore the wairua, the mauri, the health of the people.

As I watched the highlights of this special occasion, I was so moved by the harmony of the waiata; the energy of the young people paddling their waka with such pride; and the honour of the korowai wrapped around these two special members of their whanau.

It was a time to celebrate Tainui; to celebrate whakapapa and whanaungatanga; to celebrate their dedication and commitment to a better future for their mokopuna.

Whanau ora is quite simply the birth and rebirth of us as members of whanau. It is about being awake to the possibilities of our future. It is about identifying what we do well, and supporting that; instead of focusing on fixing up the symptoms of a breakdown.

I want to really mihi to all you here today who are so invaluable in supporting our whanau to be well; to be healthy; to give birth; to care for the collective wellbeing of their own.
You are part of a very precious group of Maori health professionals. The latest statistics tell us that just 166 out of a total of 2471 active midwives identified as Māori and another 2869 out of a total of 44,571 of nurses with current practising certificates identified as Māori. That’s roughly about six percent of these professions who are Maori health professionals caring for the future health and wellbeing of our people.

Not only are there so few of you, but for the pathway of primary care as we all know is one which is full of challenge. Primary health care nursing encompasses population health, health promotion, disease prevention, wellness care, first point of contact care and disease management right across the lifespan.

With such a full programme I know that some people may ask where is the space for whanau ora?

And I know just as clearly, that you would answer that whanau ora fills every space, it is the motivation that drives you in your mahi; it is all about the outcomes you seek at home and at work.

Whanau ora springs from a collective culture which binds our whanau together, to maintain our tikanga tuku iho as a living culture. The beliefs, values, obligations and responsibilities we have acquired from those who have gone before us, continue to guide us in our day to day lives.

Sometimes in Wellington, concepts like whanau ora become so difficult as we attempt to define and reinterpret meaning – or more to the point others attempt to define us to achieve political gain.

I would say to those who want to go down that track that there is no political gain to be achieved from becoming fixated by the industry of misery. My interest – and I truly believe the interest of every day New Zealanders – is to believe in the great potential of all our people, and to invest in their strength.

At its very core; whanau ora is about re-empowering whanau to take back responsibility for themselves. For too many of our families, service providers have taken over the roles of family; and in turn families have become disempowered.

I, for one, do not want to let the intergenerational dependence on the state go unabated. I want to see change amongst ourselves in how we view ourselves, and how we participate in society.

I said before, that this is a most auspicious day to be talking about whanau ora to midwives and nurses.

And I want to share with you another special reason why this is so.

After this hui, and before my next appointment, I am going to sneak a quick visit to Hamilton Hospital Maternity Unit to meet my newest mokopuna Riley; precious baby of my grandson Tamehana and his partner Rian. My daughter Lisa will be there to share in this special day; when four generations come together.

My wish for this cherished new mokopuna is that she be embraced within the folds of her whakapapa; that she will learn about inherited values such as generosity, hospitality, sharing and mutual respect.

I want her to understand the intergenerational connections that define her, the tribal names; the stories of our tupuna; the histories that make us distinctive.

I want her to understand that the special privilege of a Maori heart is the richness of the traditions and the heritage that we will pass on to her.

When we first cast eyes on her, when we breathe her breath; when we caress her skin; we will be thinking of the outcomes we seek for her future.

I want her to live long and well, to be self-managing and self-determining, to be an active participant in society; and a full and contributing citizen.

I know that her wellbeing depends on many social and economic variables, and that the expression of Maori cultural values will be closely linked. Whatever her needs are, whatever her aspirations; I hope that the numerous agencies and professional across our community that may be relevant, will respond positively to her and her whanau.

These are just some of the ideas that come to me when I think whanau ora. I am sure that if I was to ask any of you, there would be an even bigger list which expresses the breadth of whanau ora.

As our health service transforms itself to take on the direction outlined in Better, Sooner, More Convenient Primary Care; your skills and experience will be greatly sought to help work with whanau who are seeking a new direction.

Better, Sooner, more convenient primary care brings into being a faster, more convenient health system, with more emphasis on community settings. This provides a unique opportunity for you to expand your role in primary care and work as part of multi-disciplinary teams.

I believe that Maori registered nurses, enrolled nurses, midwives and other health professionals are going to be really important in helping to prepare the way for pathway ahead for whanau ora. You have the specialist expertise of wellchild/ tamariki ora programmes; as well as the life experience about whanau ora as a philosophy.

In turn, we must look after you well, to ensure that we continue to address recruitment and retention issues as an ongoing priority. We are all aware that a large proportion of Māori and Pacific nursing and midwifery students do not complete their first year of study.

And yet the unique and distinctive skills you all bring to your profession mean there is high demand for Māori health professionals who are able to meet the needs of New Zealanders accessing both mainstream health services and Māori-specific services.

I hope that during the course of this day you might be able to bring together some ideas which will help to protect and preserve your special role in this profession, while also advancing the opportunities for whanau ora to succeed.

I could stay all day – such is my passion for the transformation that I know whanau ora will bring – but there is a mokopuna waiting for me that needs to know she too is special.

Together, all of us, can make whanau ora not just a reality but the living manifestation of our ambitions and our aspirations. I wish us all well in this incredible journey ahead.


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