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Māori health workers score for unity

In a bid to break down barriers and promote a healthy lifestyle the first known Māori health workers netball tournament will take place at the weekend.

The tournament will be hosted by Te Rūnanga o Aotearoa New Zealand Nurses Organisation which has teamed up with its Auckland branch and the South Auckland branch of Te Kaunihera o nga neehi Māori. It will be held at the Manurewa Netball courts in South Auckland on Saturday, 11 February and the public have been invited to come along and enjoy a fun-filled day.

The tournament has been developed to bring all Māori health workers together in a "Pa wars" philosophy, tournament organiser and Tamaki Makaurau NZNO representative, Dhyanne Hohepa said.

Dhyanne said the recent floods in Auckland had tested the resilience of the people of the city. But as an example of coming together hauora providers, iwi providers, marae, health workers, and neighbourhoods rallied to support whanau devastated by the floods.

“There is a long road to recovery - tagged on to the tail end of the Covid pandemic, places a fresh perspective on the unity of our Māori frontline health workers at this weekend’s tournament.”

She said the day was organised to strengthen whanaungatanga (kinship, relationship, sense of family connection) among Māori nurses and other Māori health workers including doctors, allied health, students, and kaiawhina to promote healthy lifestyles.

“There is a unique coming together of Māori that fosters whanaungatanga, and we believe this is essentially important for all Māori health workers.

“The key is we all share a similar vision – to improve the health of our whānau and working well together helps to achieve that. An event such as this will promote Māori cultural identity. Many of us are on a journey to rediscovering whakapapa, and this fosters those connections further. It demonstrates, the diversity of Māori in the health workforce, and highlights we are in this TOGETHER.”

Dhyanne said health workplaces are encouraged to enter their teams, which will strengthen their own whanaungatanga, leading to unity, and resilience to continue breaking barriers in the health system and health workforce.

“Growing and sustaining the Māori health workforce is crucial to achieving health equity and reducing inequities. Teams are encouraged to engage rangatahi (youth) to participate and play as well as Pakeke (aged 50 and over).”

Eight to 10 teams are expected to compete in the tournament, which is based on the traditional “Pa Wars” or inter-marae sports festivals. These occur in most iwi across Aotearoa, and netball is usually the main event.

“Our event has a similarity where different teams of Māori health workers and their whanau, join together to celebrate being Māori and whanaungatanga in the event of friendly sports competition,” Dhyanne said.

She is expecting more than 100 spectators at the event, and space is available for promotional tents for health and education organisations at no cost.

“We are also inviting Māori food vendors to sell their kai.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Ready for action at the first ever Māori health workers netball tournament at the Manurewa Netball courts on 11 February are student nurse Tanea Jerry, registered nurse Jade Thompson, registered nurse Miriata Hohepa and student nurse Hinemareikura Ngatai.

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