More than 300 nursing leaders from 12 Pacific nations will gather in Auckland on Monday (November 8) for the opening of the 15th biennial South Pacific Nurses’ Forum (SPNF), last held in New Zealand in 1992.
The opening day will feature speeches from the president of the International Council of Nurses, Rosemary Bryant, and New Zealand’s new chief nurse Jane O’Malley.
“Nurses at the helm: Steering health across the Pacific” is the theme of the four-day forum, which will feature presentations from nursing leaders, nursing educators and practising nurses, covering a range of topics related to leadership, education, workforce development and disaster preparedness.
Secretary of the Tongan Nurses’ Association, Aspasia Katrina Vaka, believes one of the most important aspects of the forum will be learning what nurses can do to become leaders in driving health and well-being in their respective countries. “It is important we collaborate with other nurses throughout the Pacific to strengthen the professionalism of nursing in our country and the forum offers us that opportunity,” she said.
There are around 300 nurses in Tonga.
One of the smallest Pacific nations, Tuvalu, with just 38 nurses working on its eight islands, is sending a representative to the forum for the first time. Secretary of the Tuvalu Nurses’ Association, Sine Isaako, says collaboration, sharing information and experiences and bringing back innovative practice ideas to Tuvalu will be among the benefits of attending the forum.
General secretary of the Solomon Nurses’ Association, William Same, hopes the forum will agree to a unified nursing curriculum for Pacific nations. “This will ensure the level of nursing in Pacific countries is of the same standard. Our pay also has to be the same to prevent nurses migrating from one Pacific country to another, leaving patients in their home country to suffer.”
He also believes the forum will offer innovative ideas for the profession in the Solomons. There are 909 government-employed nurses and around 460 nurses paid by church organisations working in the Solomons.
The forum at the Aotea Centre is being hosted by NZNO and Te Runanga o Aotearoa NZNO.
A highlight of the opening day will be a ceremony in the evening marking the return to New Zealand from Tonga of a pounamu taonga. At the 1998 SPNF in Tonga, two taonga were presented to the patron of the Tongan Nurses’ Association, Tongan Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho, on the understanding one would be returned at the next SPNF held in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The forum’s opening night ceremony will begin with a mihi whakatau hosted by Te Runanga, with Tainui kaumatua Hone Ahu conducting the whakatau. Te Runanga kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku will receive the taonga on behalf of NZNO.