Media Releases

Highest nursing award recipient follows in mother’s footsteps

6 September 2016

Bay of Plenty nurse practitioner (NP) Pare O'Brien is the recipient of Te Rūnanga o Aotearoa NZNO's highest honour, Te Akenehi Hei Award. The award was presented at an awards dinner in Wellington last night (September 6) following NZNO's annual general meeting.

O'Brien, who became an NP in February this year, said she was stunned and shocked by the award. "I am quite overwhelmed and feel so unworthy of it, particularly when I know of previous recipients. But I will accept it humbly on behalf of my whānau, hapū and iwi," she said.

Her mother, former patron of Te Kaunihera o Ngā Neehi Māori, the Council of Māori Nurses, Puti Puti O'Brien, who died last year, received the award in 2002. "My mother deserved it. I don't think I do. But I know she would have been proud I have received it."

From Te Teko, O'Brien, whose iwi are Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou and Te Arawa, works for the Māori health and social service provider Te Tohu o Te Ora o Ngāti Awa, based in Whakatāne. As an NP, she runs mobile clinics providing health care to small and remote communities.
NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said O'Brien was a very worthy recipient. "Pare is an outstanding nursing leader. What is significant is that her peers have seen her passion, commitment and inspirational leadership and put her name forward for this prestigious award. Pare has influenced whānau, hapū and iwi, supported tauira and shown that with resilience and tenacity everyone can achieve their aspirations," Nuku said.

The award was established in 2001 to mark the centenary of nursing registration and to recognise excellence in hauora Māori. It is named after one of the first Māori registered nurses. Originally awarded annually, it is now awarded every two years to a nurse who has made a significant contribution to Māori health measured against the concepts of rangatiratanga, whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga and kotahitanga.

The inaugural recipient of the award was nursing educator and cultural safety pioneer Irihapeti Ramsden.

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