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Indigenous nurses going back to their roots

The annual Indigenous Nurses Aotearoa Conference will be going back to its roots by "Reclaiming our Whakapapa - Mana o te wai" its theme for this year.

The conference takes place at the Holiday Inn in Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland on Friday and Saturday.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said: "Korero, waiata, moteatea haka or whakatuaki shared by whanau, hapu, and Iwi katoa each have their rhythmic expression to describe the timeliness of whakapapa or a celebration of the beauty of their whenua, acknowledgement of their tipuna or other majestic beauties.

"Our whakapapa connects us and grounds us to our turangawaewae our whenua and our culture, and our rights to protect this taonga is imperative."

Ms Nuku said indigenous nurses have been historically disenfranchised by a system designed to keep them on the sidelines.

"Lower wages, fewer opportunities, lack of respect, passed over for promotions by virtue of being Māori are just some of the acts of prejudice indigenous nurses experienced in the past.

"As a consequence, at just over 4000, only about 7.5 percent of nurses in Aotearoa are Māori. Our nurse numbers continue to lag behind."

She said making the system more culturally sensitive and more responsive to the needs of Māori communities offered an obvious solution to problems faced by indigenous people in Aotearoa.

"We need to turn this frustration into action and continue the fight of our whakapapa to push for recognition in a system that makes it difficult for us to even remain relevant."

Also, on the evening of Friday, 18 August, for the sixth year running the Pharmac Tapuhi Kaitiaki Awards - the Māori nurse awards - will be hosted in tandem with the conference.

Ms Nuku said some truly exceptional nurses and tauira have been recognised over the years through these awards, and she was confident this year would be no different.

"Māori nurses are not only dedicated professionals but great innovators. The Kaitiaki Awards provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase their day-to-day mahi for the betterment of their people."

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